They will succeed Judith Hofer, 62, and James Hageman, 58, two veteran May Co. executives who are both retiring.
Gene Kahn, chairman and ceo of May Co., said in a statement: “Judi and Jim collectively are a powerful team at MMC/MDSI and individually have helped May Co. immeasurably during their careers.”
Levitt, 44, will take over as ceo of MMC/MDSI on Aug. 1, when Hofer retires after 31 years with the company. Levitt is currently president of the two divisions. Hofer is also a member of May Co.’s senior management committee.
Danahy, 55, will take on the role of vice chairman of MMC/MDSI on March 11 and will become chairman of both units on Sept. 30, when Hageman retires. Hageman has been with May Co. for 24 years.
Currently, Danahy is chairman of the Famous-Barr division, a position to be filled by Duane Nicks, 50, who is currently senior vice president of operations for the Hecht’s division.
ABN AMRO equity analyst Christine Kilton-Augustine characterized the changes as part of a natural transition at May Co. and not related to the difficult fiscal year the company recently concluded. The readiness of Levitt and Danahy to succeed the two retiring executives, she noted, is “a real testament to the depth of management at May Co.,” unlike the industry in general, where there are “fewer and fewer strong merchandising and retailing executives right now.”
Last year was tough for May Co. and other department store operators. May Co. posted its first drop in annual profits in 27 years as net income retreated 18.1 percent to $703 million, and sales slipped 2.3 percent to $14.2 billion. Comparable-store sales were off 4.6 percent.
In the past year, the company has begun developing a more potent private label program. Kahn lauded Levitt as “an exceptional merchant and a committed leader with a fabulous understanding of fashion and the merchandising cycle.”
Kahn characterized Danahy as “a talented and skilled executive who will play a critical role in May Co.’s expanding proprietary brand development and execution.”