Brown Shoe Company, Inc. announced that division President-Retail Joe Wood plans to retire in 2010. Rick Ausick will assume the role of Division President-Famous Footwear. Brown Shoe also said it expects third quarter earnings to increase over year-ago levels and come in well above Wall Street's consensus estimates.

Brown Shoe President and Chief Operating Officer Diane Sullivan, said, “Since joining the company in 2002, Joe Wood's vision and unrelenting focus on our customers have guided outstanding work across the organization in growing Famous Footwear into one of the largest footwear retailers selling brand name shoes for the entire family. The collaborative relationships he has built with vendor partners ensure our shoppers will find a fresh assortment of the brands they love, and the right shoes at the right time. Through these and countless other initiatives, Joe has become an indelible part of Famous Footwear's legacy.”

Ausick is currently Division President-Brown Shoe Wholesale with responsibility for Naturalizer, Via Spiga, Franco Sarto, Etienne Aigner, Vera Wang Lavender and Nickels Soft. Ausick joined the company in 2002 as Famous Footwear's Senior Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer, and worked closely with Wood. Ausick assumed his wholesale responsibilities in 2006.

Brown also announced that Division President of Wholesale, Gary Rich, will also retire in early 2010.

Mark Lardie will assume the role of Division President-Wholesale, with responsibility for Naturalizer, Dr. Scholl's and LifeStride, as well as the company's specialty retail stores. Lardie joined Famous Footwear as Vice President-General Merchandise Manager in 2005, and was named Senior Vice President-General Merchandise Manager in 2006. He has worked closely with the buying teams to enhance the chain's footwear offering for consumers.

Both Wood and Rich will remain with Brown Shoe until early 2010 to facilitate an orderly succession of their responsibilities to leaders within the company, all of whom have had increasing responsibilities in recent years and also bring significant industry experience to their new roles.

In other moves, Dan Friedman will be named Division President-Wholesale, Product and Sourcing, with oversight for Women's Specialty, Children's and celebrity artist brands, including Carlos by Carlos Santana and Fergie. Friedman joined Brown Shoe in 2006 as Senior Vice President-Product Development and Sourcing, and will maintain his responsibility for the company's worldwide sourcing operations and product development initiatives.

Clay Jenkins will assume the role of Senior Vice President-Specialty Brands, adding Brown Shoe's celebrity artist lines to his current responsibility for Women's Specialty and Children's. Jenkins has held a series of positions since joining Brown Shoe in 1989, most recently Senior Vice President-Brown Wholesale.

Jay Schmidt will expand his current role to become Senior Vice President-Wholesale, Better and Image Brands, adding responsibility for Franco Sarto, Etienne Aigner and Nickels Soft to his oversight of Via Spiga and Vera Wang Lavender Label. Schmidt joined Brown Shoe in 2008 as Senior Vice President and General Manager-Image Brands.

John Mazurk will assume the role of Senior Vice President-Consumer and Retail Business Development, with oversight for the Direct to Consumer area, including and other branded e-commerce sites, and will spearhead the creation of a dedicated digital and social media competency. Mazurk joined the company in 2002 as Senior Vice President-Retail Sales for Famous Footwear, was named Senior Vice President-Specialty Retail including Naturalizer retail in 2005, and additionally assumed Naturalizer wholesale in 2008.

“Gary's and Joe's leadership, innovation, bold moves and passion for the customer have been instrumental in driving growth at Brown Shoe. Their countless contributions have set the cornerstone for building the future of this company, and I thank them for their dedication. Brown Shoe's philosophy on seeking out and developing top talent ensures we have the right people within the company to manage through this change while retaining our consumer focus. I am confident our leadership team will continue to consistently deliver style, convenience, quality and value to our customers,” said Brown Shoe Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ron Fromm.

Meanwhile, the company announced net sales of $625.6 million for the third quarter ended Oct. 31, down 1% from net sales of $613.7 million in the year-ago period. Famous Footwear comparable store sales increased 4.7% as compared to a 5.0% decline in the third quarter of 2008 while Specialty Retail comparable store sales increased 4.1% as compared to a 6.7% decline in the third quarter of 2008. Wholesale sales declined 16.5% in the quarter, in line with the company's previous stated outlook.

The company currently expects third quarter net earnings per diluted share in the range of 36 cents to 37 cents. Excluding charges of 4 cents per diluted share related to its information technology initiatives, the company expects to generate 40 cents to 41 cents per diluted share on an adjusted basis in the quarter.

This compares to net earnings per diluted share of 25 cents in the third quarter of 2008, which included 24 cents per diluted share in charges related to the company's headquarters consolidation and its information technology initiatives. The company plans to provide its fourth quarter outlook when it reports full results for the third quarter on November 24, 2009.

On average, five analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect earnings of 30 cents per share for the third quarter.