NEW YORK — The May Department Stores Co. said the president of its newly acquired Marshall Field’s division is retiring and will be replaced by the current president and chief executive officer of its Hecht’s/Strawbridge’s unit.

Linda M. Ahlers will retire from Marshall Field’s effective Dec. 31, the retailer said Tuesday. She became president of Marshall Field’s in 1996 and had been with Target Corp., the former owner of the department store chain, since 1977. May completed the $3.2 billion acquisition of 62 Marshall Field’s stores and $600 million in credit card receivables from Target on July 31.

Ahlers, 54, said in a statement that May executives have supported her throughout the transition of the Marshall Field’s stores to May’s ownership and they have encouraged her “continued leadership.”

Ahlers’ retirement is interesting in light of it coming just two months after Target completed the sale of Marshall Field’s to May. But May spokeswoman Sharon Bateman said in an interview that it was “absolutely Linda’s personal decision to retire.”

Gene S. Kahn, chairman and ceo of May, said, “Linda Ahlers has been a terrific partner and leader during these early crucial months of Marshall Field’s transition to May.”

Frank J. Guzzetta, 59, will replace Ahlers effective Jan. 1. He will join Marshall Field’s on Nov. 1, however, to start the transition to the new position. Guzzetta has been president and ceo of Washington-based Hecht’s/Strawbridge’s since 2000 and has been with that division for 16 years.

In another executive move at Marshall Field’s, Robert M. Soroka was named chairman, a new position, effective Oct. 4. Soroka, 52, who is chairman of Los Angeles-based Robinsons-May, will be succeeded by Robert B. Harrison.

Harrison, 41, is senior vice president and chief financial officer of Robinsons-May, and has been with the company since 1998, while Soroka has been with May since 1976.

This story first appeared in the September 29, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.