Bon-Ton CEO resigns

Kathryn Bufano will be replaced by Bon-Ton COO

Bon-Ton will liquidate.

Kathryn Bufano, the seasoned retail industry veteran hired less than three years ago as the president and chief executive officer of The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. to turn the struggling company around, has resigned.

Bufano will leave Bon-Ton, the parent company of Boston Store, which has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 25 when her contract expires.

Kathryn Bufano Bon-Ton Troy 2014 tfp__005650
Kathryn Bufano

Bon-Ton’s chief operating officer, William Tracy, has been named the new president and CEO effective Aug. 25. Bufano will remain through a transition period.

Chad Stauffer, one of the company’s current general merchandise managers, has been named executive vice president and chief merchandising officer and will report to Tracy.

Bufano has worked in the retail industry since graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before coming to Milwaukee in October 2014, she worked for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Belk where she was president and chief merchandising officer.

“Bon-Ton has a long and successful history as the hometown store for consumers, and I am proud of the accomplishments we made during my tenure as CEO,” Bufano said in a written statement. “I look forward to working with Bill to ensure a smooth transition, and wish Bon-Ton and the entire team the best of luck in the future.”

Tim Grumbacher, chairman of the board, said Tracy is a proven leader with more than 40 years of retail experience in operations, supply chain management and logistics for national department stores.

“We are confident that Bill will be a successful leader based on his in-depth knowledge of the retail industry, his operational expertise and his understanding of the Bon-Ton business,” Grumbacher said. “We look forward to working with Bill as we continue to drive forward on our strategic initiatives and position the brand for long term success.”

Tracy has served as COO of the company since July 2015.  He previously held various management positions at Brampton, Canada-based Hudson’s Bay Company. Tracy previously held the position of chief operating officer at both Fortunoff Brands LLC and Nine West Corporation, and has also served in various senior leadership positions at Lord & Taylor and Abraham & Straus Department Stores.

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead Bon-Ton and appreciate the board’s confidence and support during this transition,” Tracy said. “We have a strong team in place that has worked diligently over the recent years to strengthen Bon-Ton’s competitive position within the industry, despite the difficult retail environment.”

Like many retailers, Bon-Ton has struggled in recent years to attract customers as consumers shift more of their spending online and spend less time in stores. Last week, S&P Global Market Intelligence named Bon-Ton as one of the 10 retail companies most at risk to file for bankruptcy. Other company’s listed included Sears Holdings Corp. and Perfumania Holdings Inc.

Shares of Bon-Ton’s stock were trading for about 84 cents this afternoon. Bon-Ton will release its first quarter earnings May 18.

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