Perspectives from ISB

Belk Inc. is an American mid-range to upscale department store chain, founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk. With CEO, Tim Belk, the company is in the third generation of Belk family leadership. Until recently it was also the nation’s largest family-owned and operated department store chain, with 293 stores in 16 Southern states and a growing online presence. However on August 24, 2015, Belk announced that it had entered into a merger agreement to be acquired by New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners. The acquisition was completed on December 10, 2015 for $3 billion.

Now in less than a year after it was acquired, Tim Belk is set to retire, ending 128 years of day-to-day family leadership of the company. Belk had been with the company for more than 35 years and had been CEO since 2004. He will remain on the board of directors and work with his successor — Lisa Harper, the former CEO of Hot Topic — during a transition period in July before leaving the company.

As per experts, the family has timed the sale impeccably given the current challenges in the retail industry from the constant growth in e-commerce and changing customer habits. This is another instance where the family rather than face bankruptcy, exits a business, only to reinvest later in another new venture thereby sustaining the family legacy.

Source: Charlotte Business Journal, June 29, 2016.