NEW YORK — Henri Bendel’s chief executive officer, Michael McCadden, is leaving the company today.

“Michael made the decision to leave the business,” said a spokesman for Limited Brands, which owns Bendel’s. “The management team now in place will lead the business while we carry on a search. We’ve not yet determined whether we’ll hire a merchant or ceo.”

McCadden, who joined Bendel’s in April 2004, was charged with improving the performance of Bendel’s Fifth Avenue flagship here and burnishing the retailer’s upscale image.

Prior to joining Bendel’s, McCadden was executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Priceline.com. Before that, he was executive vice president of Gap Inc., responsible for khaki marketing and advertising and the Internet businesses of Old Navy, Banana Republic and Gap.

Henri Bendel has had a history of ups and downs as it has struggled to compete with larger, stronger department and specialty stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. Just months after McCadden arrived at Bendel’s, Ed Burstell, the vice president and general merchandise manager credited with pumping life into the business, resigned. The approach of Burstell, a hands-on merchant, who traveled the world in search of new designers, has changed as Bendel’s moves from a multidesigner assortment to more private label goods.

But sources said many of McCadden’s initiatives never took off and an ambitious program to open more Bendel’s units has been slowed.

“Future sales are going to be in lingerie and beauty products,” said the spokesman. “The signature Henri Bendel product line has been rolled out into a lot of categories.”

This story first appeared in the May 13, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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