TOM BURNS GOES TO KIRK PALMER
Byline: David Moin
NEW YORK — Tom Burns, senior executive vice president of The Doneger Group, has joined Kirk Palmer Associates, an executive search firm, as vice president.
The move is surprising considering Burns’s long career in the buying office field and his close working association with Abbey Doneger, president of The Doneger Group, a dominant independent buying office.
“Tom will be helping to bring new business in and he’ll be performing executive search assignments,” said Kirk Palmer, president. “I started talking to Tom three years ago about this. This is a great coup.”
At Doneger, Burns was the number-two executive. Along with Abbey Doneger, he has been highly visible in the marketplace. He is known for his expertise across various apparel markets, having a good handle on retail issues and being well liked in the industry.
He often traveled for Doneger, bringing Doneger’s consulting services to foreign retailers as well as some major U.S. chains, such as Wal-Mart. Also, he was instrumental in bringing the fast-growing Doneger Group new retail and wholesale clients.
“The transition into the executive search field allows me to leverage my extensive network and knowledge of the industry,” Burns said in a statement Wednesday.
It will also raise the profile of Palmer, a small but aggressive executive search firm for the retail and fashion industries.
Like retailing, the executive search sector has recently undergone several consolidations, with smaller firms getting merged into larger ones. Recently, Levy-Kerson Associates, another search firm specializing in retailing, was merged into Korn Ferry, among the largest headhunting companies in the country.
“I’m not interested in selling,” said Palmer. “We think there is an advantage in maintaining a niche and providing service as a boutique search firm.” Palmer said he has 12 employees, including eight executive search consultants.
Burns joined Doneger in 1990 when his own company, Van Buren Burns Winkler Associates, was sold to Doneger.
The early part of his career was spent at Loehmann’s where he rose to divisional merchandise manager. After Loehmann’s, he co-founded Burns Winkler Associates, an off-price buying office, in 1982. That office eventually merged into the Van Buren buying office.
Abbey Doneger said he has not yet named a successor.