Brown Shoe Company, Inc. named Richard “Rick” Ausick as President of its Needham, Mass.-based Bennett Division. He will be responsible for overseeing the division’s operations, as well as growing the Via Spiga, Franco Sarto, Etienne Aigner and Nickels Soft brands.

Ausick joined Brown Shoe’s Famous Footwear division in 2002 as Senior Vice President-Chief Merchandising Officer. Since that time, he has served as a key member of the leadership team responsible for repositioning the 950-store chain. As such, he directed Famous Footwear’s merchandising to branded-fashion assortments, achieving increased purchase ratios, lower inventories and faster merchandise turns.

Before coming to Famous Footwear, Ausick was a Senior Vice President and General Merchandise Manager for the 114-store Shopko chain. Prior to that, he held a number of senior merchandising positions at the Burdines department store chain, including Senior Vice President-GMM Home, Vice President-Planning Distribution, and Merchandise Vice President-Footwear, where he had direct responsibility for buying and merchandising all women’s, men’s and athletic footwear offered by Burdines.

“Rick brings an intense fashion- and consumer-focus to this position,” said Brown Shoe President and COO Diane Sullivan. “As a leader and an outstanding merchant who knows how to build brands at retail, were confident that he will continue to drive further growth for the Bennett division.”

Ausick replaces Bruce Ginsberg, the previous president of Bennett Footwear, who announced his retirement in May.

Lardie, Sonday

The company also promoted Mark Lardie to Senior Vice President-General Merchandise Manager for Famous Footwear, and Jeff J. Sonday to Senior Vice President-Finance for Bennett.

Mark Lardie joined Famous Footwear as Vice President-General Merchandise Manager in 2005, and now assumes Ausick’s responsibilities, managing the buying and merchandising functions for the chain. Since coming to Famous Footwear, he has worked closely with the buying teams to improve the consumer focus of its product offering.

Prior to joining Famous Footwear, Lardie was Senior Vice President-General Merchandise Manager for Footstar’s Athletic Division. He also worked in senior merchandising positions for Just for Feet, Footaction, The Athlete’s Foot and Sportmart.

Jeff Sonday, in his new role as Senior Vice President-Finance for the Bennett division, assumes all financial and accounting responsibilities for the division and its footwear and accessory brands. Most recently, Sonday served as Vice President-Merchandising, Financial Planning and Analysis for Brown Shoe’s Famous Footwear division. Since joining Brown Shoe in 1991 as a staff accountant, he has progressed through the financial organization in such positions as Director-Finance and Vice President and Controller for Famous Footwear.