The executive will stay on as parent company Caleres Inc. searches for his replacement and will help guide Famous Footwear through the transition.
“The Caleres board of directors and its executive leadership has been preparing for Rick’s retirement by developing a deep bench of strong leaders at Famous Footwear and by expanding the breadth and depth of our brand portfolio,” Diane Sullivan, CEO, president and chairman of Caleres, said in a statement. “We are actively managing the search for Rick’s successor, and since it is incredibly important for us to find the right person for this role, we are considering both internal and external candidates. Our goal is to ensure a thoughtful, seamless transition.”
Sullivan added that thanks to Ausick’s leadership, Famous Footwear is on track to deliver single-digit same-store-sales increases for fiscal 2017.
The executive, who was inducted into FN’s Hall of Fame in November, began his career at Marshall Field’s in 1977. His first footwear role was assistant manager at a branch location, overseeing soft-goods categories. “After that, shoes just happened,” Ausick recalled recently.
He served in major positions at several department stores before joining Famous Footwear in 2002 as chief merchandising officer, taking over the top spot in 2009. Under Ausick’s leadership, Famous Footwear has continued to be the largest contributor to Caleres’ performance, racking up about $1.6 billion in sales in fiscal 2016.
“The shoe business has been very good to me,” Ausick said in November. “It has lots of great people, and the customer has an emotional connection to the category, which is unique. These things make it fun to be in the business and feel excited about coming to work every day.”
Caleres has retained Kirk Palmer Associates to assist in the search for Ausick’s successor.