Vestis Retail Group, LLC, which operates Eastern Mountain Sports and Bob's Stores, announced James Petty will replace Mark Walsh as its chief executive officer, effective July 8.

Walsh will remain chairman of Vestis, which was formed in January by affiliates of private equity firm Versa Capital Management, LLC to consolidate the back office operations of EMS and Bob’s Stores, which Versa acquired in 2012 and 2008 respectively.

“We're pleased to welcome Jim Petty to Vestis, and believe he is the right leader for the company at this point in time,” said Walsh, the Versa managing director who orchestrated the acquisition of EMS.

Petty stepped down as president of the Carter’s retail chain in December rather than move from Connecticut to Carter Inc.’s headquarters in Atlanta as part of a corporate cost cutting initiative. While he left the company last year, his retirement did not become official until June 30, 2013. He will work from Vestis’ headquarters in Meriden, CT.

Under Petty, the Carter’s retail chain grew from 253 stores and $488.6 million in sales in fiscal 2008 to 413 stores with $818.9 million in sales in fiscal 2012. The company opened 60 new stores last year, doubled e-commerce sales to $142 million, while achieving comp store sales growth of 3.9 percent on top of a 5.6 percent increase in 2011. The results earned Petty $1.88 million in 2012, including a base salary of $495,000, $511,320 in stock awards, $122,160 in option awards and a $735,000 cash bonus.

At Vestis, Petty will oversee a much smaller regional operation with fewer but larger stores. All of Bob’s Stores 35 stores and EMS’ 68 stores are located between Virginia and Maine, although both companies sell nationally via their e-commerce sites. Together they generated less than $500 million in revenues last year.

“I am pleased we have attracted a person of Jim's talent and experience to help guide Bob's and EMS to the next level of growth and success,” said Gregory L. Segall, CEO for Versa. ”We're looking forward to Mark's contributions to our existing and future investments in the Versa portfolio of companies.”

Prior to joining Carter's, Petty held senior roles at Limited Too and Gap, Inc.