MAY ELEVATES KAHN, DUNHAM

Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK — The May Department Stores Co. gave its chief executive officer Gene Kahn the additional title of chairman, succeeding Jerome T. Loeb, who will retire on April 30. It also promoted John L. Dunham, former vice chairman and chief financial officer, to president. That title had previously been held by Kahn.
In addition, Thomas D. Fingleton, executive vice president, assumes the additional post of cfo.
The moves, announced Thursday, cap a long-term succession plan at the St. Louis-based May Co. And while reflecting a vote of confidence in Kahn, the new title doesn’t change his responsibilities much, since as ceo he’s been overseeing the retailer all along, and in particular leading the merchandising efforts.
Dunham, however, takes on a much broader role as president, with the cfo, human resources, legal, real estate and store design and construction functions all reporting to him.
Reporting to Fingleton are finance, treasury, electronic data processing, credit, customer service, operations and tax.
Kahn’s tenure at the helm has mostly been marked by the decline of May Co.’s dominance among department stores, with Federated Department Stores posting better figures. However, last quarter, May Co. showed improvement, which was attributed to the “merchandise-driven strategy” initiated by Kahn. The strategy entails a stronger focus on catering to younger customers, casual lifestyles and more private label. May Co. scores high points for its brand presentation, but the private label program has not been as energetic as Federated’s.
Also, Kahn has returned May Co. to the acquisition front, with the recent purchases of the David’s Bridal chain and nine Saks Inc. department stores.
In the latest quarter, May Co. showed continued good inventory control and realistic planning, and posted a net income increase of 1 percent. Total sales improved 5.5 percent, and comparable-store sales increased 1.8 percent.
In a statement on the executive changes, Kahn said: “Jerry Loeb’s contributions to the success of May are immeasurable. During his 37 years with May, he has significantly impacted the way we think, function and operate,” adding that, “he is an outstanding coach, sounding board and business person.”
He also characterized Dunham and Fingleton as “key factors in the company’s success.”
Kahn, 50, has more than 30 years of retail experience. He joined May Co.’s G. Fox division as president and ceo in 1990. Two years later, he was named president and ceo of the Filene’s division, which absorbed G. Fox. He was promoted to vice chairman of May Co. in March 1996, became executive vice chairman in June 1997 and president and ceo in 1998.
Dunham, 54, was named a vice chairman in 1999. He began his career in 1976 at May Co. Cleveland, as a divisional vice president in operations, became chairman of Sibley’s in 1987, chairman of G. Fox in 1989 and, in 1993, chairman of May Merchandising. He was named executive vice president and cfo in 1996.
Fingleton, 53, was named executive vice president, finance and operations in 2000. He joined May Co. in 1978 as director of corporate accounting, became controller of May Co. Cleveland in 1980 and had several promotions before becoming chairman of The Hecht Co. in 1991.
Loeb, 60, was named chairman in 1998. A career May Co. executive, he joined the retailer in 1964 at the Famous-Barr division. He rose up the ranks to executive vice president of corporate development in 1979, executive vice president and cfo of May Co. in 1981, vice chairman in 1986, and president in 1993.