Brown Promotes Sullivan to CEO

Diane Sullivan is moving up at Brown Shoe Co.

The executive will assume the post of president and CEO, effective May 26. Ron Fromm, the firm’s current chairman and CEO, will retain the role of chairman once Sullivan moves into her new role.

The company said the move was the result of an 18-month succession plan instituted by Brown’s board of directors.

“The board and I have been working on succession planning for a while,” said Fromm in an interview on Monday. “Diane is a clear and obvious choice. We brought her on board as president and then made her COO for a reason.

Sullivan joined Brown Shoe in 2004 as president and added the COO title in 2006. She has spearheaded much of the company’s growth over the past several years, including the development of a $250 million contemporary footwear business. Sullivan has also expanded the company’s Naturalizer and Dr. Scholl’s brands globally, as well as struck high-profile footwear deals with Fergie and other notable names such as Vera Wang.

“She understands the company, and the business,” Fromm said, adding that Sullivan has been working with him on Brown’s strategic vision for some time.

For her part, Sullivan said she was excited to begin a new chapter at Brown.

“It’s a great thing on all fronts,” she said. “I have the opportunity to continue to work with Ron as he sets the agenda with the board … and at the same time, I have the opportunity to implement a lot of strategic plans.”

Sullivan said she plans to forge ahead with the current growth agenda at Brown, which has been a strong performer coming out of the recession.

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