Belk Department Stores Company has ushered in a new era with their newest CEO appointment, as for their first time in their entire existence the company will be helmed by someone that isn’t a member of the Belk family.
Tim Belk stood down on July 5, allowing Lisa Harper to take over the role as CEO in the company. The business has always had a member of the Belk family running things in their 128-year existence, so it is truly a monumental moment in the history of the upscale department store.
Belk had been working in the position of CEO for over ten years, serving in the role since 2004. His history with the company goes back much further, having originally started out as a management trainee all the way back in 1981, meaning his total time in service to the family business reached an impressive 35 years.
In his time at Belk, he worked in a number of different roles within the company, including a store manager, a buyer, divisional merchandise manager, and president of stores and real estate. He was a key figure in leading the company when it acquired Parisian Proffit’s and McRae’s in 2005, and leaves the company in good standing.
"After managing through the ownership transition and filling a number of key management positions, I've decided this is an opportune time for me to retire as CEO of Belk," said Belk in a statement "It has been an honor to continue my family's legacy by serving the company over the past 35 years."
His replacement Lisa Harper has vast experience in the world of retail, having been the CEO of Hot Topic since March 2011, a position that she recently left to pursue her new role within Belk Inc. She will remain with Hot Topic as a member of the board of directors, a role that she has held since 2008.
Prior to her time at Hot Topic, Harper worked as the CEO of child and women’s specialty retailer Gymboree Corporation from 2001 -2006, as well as operating as Chairman from 2002-2006. Throughout her time there she had roles in various areas of the company from design to merchandising.
Tim Belk also had a glowing endorsement for his successor:
"Lisa Harper brings more than two decades of experience across the retail industry," he said. "I am confident she will be a dynamic leader who will carry forth our values, our brand, and our focus on our customers. I look forward to working with Lisa during a transition period in July and in my continued role as a board member."
Will Lisa Harper bring about any exciting changes to Belk Inc.? What will be the fallout of having a family business lead by a non-family member for the first time ever? Time will only tell, but it looks to be a very interesting move nonetheless.