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Pacific Sunwear Executive to Retire

June 16, 2005|Leslie Earnest | Times Staff Writer

Timothy Harmon, who helped engineer the growth of Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., said Wednesday that he would retire July 1 after 14 years with the teen retailer.

Harmon, 53, joined the Anaheim company in 1991 and has been president and chief merchandising officer since 1997. He was one of a trio of executives who worked closely to build PacSun as it expanded from 51 stores to more than 1,000 and added the urban-themed chain d.e.m.o.

"I would have loved to have him stay a lot longer," Chief Executive Seth Johnson said in a joint interview with Harmon.

What will Harmon do next?

"Absolutely nothing," he said. "That is my plan."

Analysts said they weren't surprised by the announcement, given the departure last year of Chief Financial Officer Carl Womack and the decision by Greg Weaver shortly thereafter to relinquish his longtime position as CEO to become executive chairman.

"It's like the third leg of the stool," said Elizabeth Pierce, an analyst with Sanders Morris Harris. "All three -- Greg, Carl and Tim -- this business is like their child in a way....They've all left behind this legacy of PacSun and d.e.m.o."

The year he started, Harmon recalled, Pacific Sunwear logged sales of $34 million -- and lost $2 million. "We were in bad shape," he said. Last year sales were $1.2 billion, and profit pushed past $100 million.

PacSun has been hiring executives who have been picking up Harmon's duties, and analysts said the company had a solid team to carry it forward. Still, Pierce said, the stock could take a "sympathy hit" today, as "Wall Street doesn't like change."

Shares rose 34 cents to $24.30 on Wednesday. The news was announced after the market closed.

The company also said that Reenie Benziger, a former merchandising executive at Gap Inc., had been named executive vice president of merchandise.

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