Bufano out at Bon-Ton as department-store chain announces management changes

Kathryn Bufano - (Photo / Submitted)

Change is in the air at The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.

Ahead of its next quarterly earnings report on May 18, the department-store chain today announced that Kathryn Bufano, the company’s president and CEO, is resigning, effective Aug. 25 upon expiration of her contract. She started with the chain in 2014 as a replacement for Brendan Hoffman.

William Tracy, the company’s current COO, will be named president and CEO upon her departure in August. He has been with the company since July 2015. He previously served as executive vice president of supply chain, logistics and omnichannel fulfillment and global sourcing for Hudson’s Bay Co.

Chad Stauffer, one of the company’s current general merchandise managers, has been named executive vice president, chief merchandising offer, where he will report to the CEO.

“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 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.”

Bon-Ton officials were not immediately available for comment on her reason for resigning.

The news of her resignation hit in the wake of other changes at Bon-Ton, which has been struggling financially. The company just named a new board chairman to replace retiring Tim Grumbacher.

In a statement, Grumbacher credited Bufano for instituting a rebranding initiative, enhancing the company’s customer rewards programs and launching a localization strategy.


Grumbacher said he is confident that Tracy will “continue to drive forward on our strategic initiatives and position the brand for long-term success.”

Last week, the chain disclosed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it received deficiency letters from the Nasdaq stock exchange that its publicly held shares do not meet the requirement for continued listing. 

One letter said the company’s market value was less than $15 million for the past 30 consecutive business days. A second letter notified the company that the stock’s closing bid price was below $1 per share for 30 consecutive business days.

A delisting warning cropped up in March before being rescinded.

Bon-Ton, which has corporate headquarters in York County and Milwaukee, reported its fourth quarter and fiscal year earnings in March, which showed declining store traffic and a drop in sales. Comparable store sales fell 4.7 percent in the fourth quarter and 3.8 percent for the fiscal year that ended Jan. 28.

For the full fiscal year, Bon-Ton saw its net loss widen to $63.4 million, up from a net loss of $57.1 million in the previous year.

Bon-Ton operates 261 stores in 25 states under the Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers banners. They include nine furniture galleries and four clearance centers.

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