Sudden Change in Command at Belk

Belk

Belk Inc., the Southern regional department store chain, has appointed Don Hendricks interim chief executive officer in the wake of the sudden departure of Nir Patel.

Belk said Patel left the company to pursue another interest but did not specify what that was.

Hendricks has been serving as president of Belk. He joined the Charlotte, N.C.-based retailer in 2016 as the chief operating officer before adding stores to his responsibilities in 2019 and being named president in 2020. Prior to joining Belk, Hendricks held positions at Gymboree, Hot Topic and Torrid, including chief information officer and chief operating officer.

Patel, prior to becoming CEO of Belk in July 2021, was its chief merchandising officer. Before that he was Belk’s executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s, home, kids and e-commerce. Before Belk he was senior vice president of men’s, young men’s, juniors and kids at Kohl’s. Prior to that, he worked for Lands’ End.

Belk is part of Sycamore Partners’ portfolio of brands that also includes Limited, Hot Topic, Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor and other retail brands. Sycamore, a New York-based private equity firm, bought Belk in November 2015 for about $3 billion. The business had been owned and operated by the Belk family. The business, founded in 1888, has about 300 stores in 16 states.

It’s long had a loyal following and successfully competed against national chains such as Macy’s and Kohl’s. However, the company went bankrupt in 2020 during the pandemic and was fast-tracked out of the Chapter 11 proceedings through a prepackage reorganization involving a reduction of debt and refinancing. There had been some industry speculation about the chain’s lagging performance, which would have been compounded by the health crisis.