Chief merchandiser becomes Jos. A. Bank president

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Confirming the increasingly important role that merchandisers play for multichannel retailers, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers has named its chief merchandising officer, R. Neal Black, as president of the company.

In a Jan. 18 DM News article about the changing role of merchandisers in the age of multichannel retailing, several industry experts expressed the opinion that merchandisers possess a set of skills that is becoming increasingly vital to merchants, including the ability to drive a brand's message across channels and help with new product acquisition.

"I am actually seeing for the very first time several very large companies that are multichannel marketers where the next president or CEO will come out of merchandising instead of marketing or finance," Donald R. Libey, president of consultancy Libey Inc., Des Moines, IA, said at the time.

At Jos. A. Bank, Mr. Black will maintain his responsibilities as chief merchandising officer and continue to report to CEO Robert N. Wildrick, who will assume the additional title of executive chairman. Mr. Wildrick will continue to be the liaison between the management of the company and the board of directors.

Since taking over management of the company in late 1999, Jos. A. Bank's current executive management team has watched sales increase over 180 percent and the store base more than triple to 382 stores.

In February, the Hampstead, MD-based multichannel merchant reported that its net sales for the 53 weeks ended Feb. 3 increased 17.6 percent for a total of $546.4 million compared to the 52 weeks of fiscal year 2005. Same-store sales rose 4.3 percent comparing the 53 weeks of fiscal year 2006 with the corresponding 53 weeks of the prior year, while direct marketing sales increased 23.5 percent.

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