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Ross merchandising chief Barbara Rentler appointed CEO

Ross Stores’ board approved a succession plan whereby chief merchandising officer and president Barbara Rentler will become CEO, making her the 25th female chief executive to currently serve at a Fortune 500 company.

Rentler will succeed Michael Balmut, who announced nearly two years ago his intent to step down as CEO on June 1, and become executive chairman. Ross Stores said Balmut will continue to play an integral role on the senior management team.

Rentler also will join the company’s board, along with COO and president Michael O’Sullivan.

“We are delighted to announce the team which will lead Ross Stores into the future, as we seek to build on our strong record of growth,” Balmut said. “Barbara is a gifted merchant and demonstrated leader who has been part of our company's growth for 28 years. She has played an important role in developing an exceptional team of off-price merchants whose abilities to procure great bargains have been a key driver of our success. Her strong merchandising expertise and management skills give me great confidence that she will be an excellent CEO.”

Balmuth will remain a key member of Ross’ executive team with Jim Fassio, president and chief development officer, and Doug Baker, president and chief merchandising officer, dd's Discounts, continuing to report directly to him.

Other promotions effective June 1 include: Lisa Panattoni to president merchandising; and Bernard Brautigan to group executive VP merchandising.

Ross Stores operates Ross Dress for Less, with 1,172 stores in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. It also has 137 dd's Discounts in 10 states.