Byline: Vicki M. Young

NEW YORK — Ross Stores has a new president and chief operating officer to help steer the company’s expansion: James C. Peters, formerly president of U.S. retailing for Staples Inc.
At Ross, the 38-year-old Peters succeeds Melvin A. Wilmore, who retired from the company in January 2000. Peters will be responsible for store operations, distribution, finance, human resources, property development and information systems. He reports directly to Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and chief executive officer.
Balmuth said Friday, “Jim has a strong operational background in multi-unit chains, with emphasis in logistics and store operations, two key pieces of any store.”
“Our business is an everyday low-price business,” Balmuth said. “Peters’ background in all operational aspects of retailing and chain stores gives him a broader exposure in areas than anyone now at Ross Stores.”
Peters will be instrumental in overseeing Ross Stores’ planned expansion into new markets in the Southeast. Up to one-third of all stores targeted to open in 2001 and 2002 will be in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Before joining Staples in 1997, Peters held operating positions at Office Depot.
Ross Stores, the nation’s second largest off-pricer, operates 386 stores, competes with other off-price chains such as TJX Cos.; Loehmann’s, which is slated to exit bankruptcy proceedings later this year, and Filene’s Basement, which was bought this year by Value City Department Stores while still under the bankruptcy court jurisdiction. Balmuth said competition from Loehmann’s and Filene’s is minimal, since those chains operate primarily on the East Coast, while the bulk of Ross stores is on the West Coast.
For the five-week period ended July 1, Ross reported a 7 percent increase in sales to $251 million from $235 million in the year-ago period, with comparable store sales dipping 1 percent.
Ross Stores began in 1982 as a six-store chain in the San Francisco Bay Area. It targets value-conscious consumers between 25 and 54, at the middle to upper-middle income levels. It became a public company in 1985.

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