Elder-Beerman Stores Corp chairman, president and chief executive officer, Fredrick J. Mershad, notified the company's board of directors of his intention to retire effective December 31, 2001. The executive committee of the corporation's board has commenced a process to select a successor. Mr Mershad will assist in the search process.

Mr Mershad, who has 36 years of experience in retail, has served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Elder-Beerman since December 1997. He came to Elder-Beerman as its president and chief executive officer in January 1997 from the Proffitt's division of Saks, Inc, where he served as its president and chief executive officer.

Steven C. Mason, chairman of the board's executive committee, said: "During Fred Mershad's tenure at Elder-Beerman he grew the chain from 48 department stores to its current 63 stores. He led the team that created the company's concept stores in 1999 and presided over the development of the company's new strategic plan. We will be sorry to see him go, and the board wishes him well."

Mr. Mershad said: "I am privileged to have worked with the outstanding team at Elder-Beerman. It is gratifying to see the progress made in implementation of the company's strategic plan that emphasises delivering quality fashionable merchandise at value prices, maintaining tight expense controls, and opening new concept stores.

"The Board and I are confident that this strategic plan continues to be right for Elder-Beerman. As we work to identify Elder-Beerman's new leader, the company will aggressively move forward. We are opening three new concept stores before the Christmas selling season, rolling out tools to help deliver our value merchandising proposition to the customer and we are tightly controlling expenses. Elder-Beerman is prepared to meet the retail industry's challenges and reap its rewards through its resolve to understand its customers and meet their needs."