Borders CEO resigns to head up A&P

New York City Borders announced on Tuesday that CEO Ron Marshall is stepping down after about a year with the chain, effective immediately. Marshall will head up the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P), where he will replace interim chief executive Christian Haub, effective Feb. 8. A&P had been searching for a permanent CEO since October 2009.

Marshall’s departure from Borders leaves the struggling retailer with the challenge of finding its fourth chief executive in five years. His resignation comes a week after Borders posted a steep drop in company revenue and same-store sales for the crucial holiday period.

Borders appointed Marshall as CEO and president in January 2009 to replace George Jones, who left in a management shake-up. He was the founder of a private-equity firm Wildridge Capital Management and had been brought on for his turnaround skills.

At Borders, Marshall is credited with spearheading substantial operational and financial improvements to drive increased cash flow and reduce debt as well as streamlining the company’s multilayered management. But the chain has continued to struggle with increased competition from online rivals and discounters and declining music sales amid the cutback in consumer spending.

It reported last week that sales at its namesake superstores open at least a year were down 14.6% for the crucial holiday period. The company has reported three consecutive quarterly losses.

In November, Borders announced that it would close 200 Waldenbooks and Borders Express stores.

Borders has replaced Marshall on an interim basis with executive VP and chief merchandising officer, Michael Edwards. Marshall will assist with the transition. The retailer retained Korn/Ferry International to find a permanent replacement.

Marshall, who has 12 years of food retailing experience, will have his work cut out for him at his new company, which operates stores under the A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaum and Super Fresh banners. The supermarket operator been losing money since June 2008. Same-store sales in quarter ended Dec. 5, fell 5.8% after slipping 3.9% in the previous quarter.

"I am confident that, together, we will bring A&P back to its leadership position," Marshall said in a prepared statement.

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