BLUESTONE TO SUCCEED DICKSTEIN AT CARSON’S

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Stanton J. Bluestone, chief executive officer of Carson Pirie Scott & Co., is succeeding Mark Dickstein as chairman.
Bluestone will continue as ceo of the Milwaukee-based firm, which operates 51 department stores and three furniture units in the Midwest. Dickstein, who has been chairman since December 1993, remains as a director.
In addition, Carson’s is poised to execute its “most aggressive growth plans in a number of years,” Edward P. Carroll Jr., executive vice president, noted Tuesday.
“We are still very interested in acquiring a department store company that has stores in states contiguous with our locations,” Carroll said.
On Jan. 3, Carson’s ended its effort to acquire Younkers Inc. through a series of hostile tender bids that began in October 1994 and ranged from $17 to $20 a share.
Carroll declined to comment on whether Carson’s was holding talks with potential partners. Younkers, the 53-unit regional department store based in Des Moines, Iowa, has merged with Proffitt’s Inc., Knoxville, Tenn.
Carson’s operates 31 Carson Pirie Scott & Co. stores in greater Chicago, Indiana and Minnesota; 12 Bergner’s units in Illinois, and 11 Boston Stores in Wisconsin.
The company also plans to build four department stores this year and remodel another five. By 1998, Carroll said, 80 percent of the firm’s units will have been redone. Roughly 50 percent of the stores already have been updated, which fed sales growth in 1995, Carroll said.
Although Carson’s fourth-quarter sales fell 7 percent to $365 million, volume at stores open for at least one year grew 3.3 percent. And same-store sales in units remodeled in 1994 leaped 11.4 percent in the period.
Women’s better sportswear and women’s petites and large-size apparel were the store’s top categories last year, benefiting from more sharply focused merchandising in redone stores, Carroll noted. Sales of better sportswear ran up 16 percent and special sizes advanced 12 percent.
Dickstein, a principal of Dickstein Partners, a New York investment firm, said of Bluestone: “His primary mission at Carson’s has been and will continue to be to increase shareholder value.”
The price of Carson’s stock has more than doubled since the issue began trading over-the-counter on Nov. 2, 1993 — shortly after Carson’s emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection — at $11 per share.
The stock eased 1/4 to close at 24 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, after rising to a 12-month high of 24 1/2 during the trading day. That topped the issue’s previous high of 24 1/4, notched a day earlier. Carson’s board on Tuesday authorized the firm to buy back up to $20 million of its stock over the next two years. This program supersedes the $10 million plan announced last April.
Carson’s board also approved a new employment agreement with Bluestone for a term expiring on Jan. 31, 1999. His existing contract was set to expire on Jan. 31, 1997. Carroll said Dickstein — who bought debt during Carson’s bankruptcy that was converted to an equity stake — continues to hold about 3.5 percent of Carson’s stock.
— Fairchild News Service

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