Michael Bush has resigned as president and chief executive officer of the Anchor Blue Retail Group.

Tom Sands, who has run the company's Levi's/Dockers Outlets by MOST unit since joining the firm, is expected to be named to succeed him shortly.

A spokesperson for Anchor Blue declined comment on reports of Bush's departure and Sands' promotion but said an announcement would be made shortly.

Bush, who will remain a minority shareholder in the specialty store company, has headed Anchor Blue, based in Ontario, California, since it was acquired by Sun Capital Partners in late 2003.

"After successfully leading the turnaround at Anchor Blue Retail Group, I have decided to leave the company at the end of the fiscal year to take some time off to enjoy my family and our new house," he said in a letter sent to business associates.

"After three years of hard work, I am looking forward to exploring new investments, having more time to contribute to other activities and addressing the deferred maintenance on my family's affairs."

His letter acknowledged that he and Sun Capital "had a number of meaningful differences on the appropriate operating strategy for the future, so we decided it made the best sense for me to step aside to allow them to move forward as they choose."

Prior to joining Anchor Blue, Bush was president and CEO of Bally's US division. Earlier in his career, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Movado, senior VP of strategic planning and marketing for Ross Stores and an associate of Bain & Co.

During his tenure at Anchor Blue, he negotiated the acquisition of the Levi's and Dockers outlet stores east of the Mississippi River from Casual Male Retail Group - the company already had rights to the outlet stores west of the Mississippi - and oversaw the implementation of new merchandising and store strategies for the company.

Sands was executive vice president of stores and operations at Gap's Old Navy division before joining Anchor Blue as head of its outlet operations. He began his career with Target Corp and was senior VP of store operations when he concluded his two-decade tenure with the Minneapolis-based discounter.

Anchor Blue Retail Group operates 167 Anchor Blue youth-focused apparel specialty stores and 81 Levi's/Dockers outlets. Although the Anchor Blue stores are concentrated in the US and particularly in their home state of California, the firm just opened its first stores in Florida.
 
By Arnold J Karr.