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Apparel Retailer Names New President

March 31, 1992

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) _ The apparel retailer Gantos Inc. on Tuesday named Michele Fortune its president and chief operating officer.

Fortune, 43, will succeed L. Douglas Gantos, who assumes the posts of chairman and chief executive officer of the 158-store chain.

Fortune has spent the last year as executive vice president of merchandising and marketing for Hit or Miss, a 500-store apparel chain owned by TJX Cos.

Despite the change of title, Gantos will remain in charge of the company, predictd analyst Gregory E.V. Dodgson of Robert W. Baird & Co.

″If he were switching to just chairman, that would be something else,″ Dodgson said. ″But he is still chief executive officer and will be making the calls on policy.″

Gantos, which recorded a $410,000 profit for 1991, is continuing its recovery from a loss of $12.8 million in 1990.

The company has restructured by dropping higher-priced items from its racks, cut back on staff, closed its catalog department and put its Grand Rapids headquarters and distribution center up for sale.

Fortune began her retailing career as a buyer for Filene’s of Boston in 1970. Five years later, she jumped to Lord & Taylor, where she worked her way up from buying to senior vice president and general merchandising manager.

She served as president and chief executive officer of Ann Taylor Stores from 1987-89. Fortune was a private consultant in 1990 before joining Hit or Miss, which has also been trying to recover from slumping business.

To turn the divsion around, TJX has announced the closing of 75 stores and named a new president, Herbert Yalof.

Fortune said her decision to leave was unrelated to the changes.