February 6, 2006, 12:00 AM

General Nutrition Centers chairman to take over as CEO of Linens ‘n Things

Robert DiNicola will succeed Norman Axelrod, the long-time CEO of Linens ‘n Things, as part of the pending $1.3 billion acquisition of the home textiles and accessories retailer by investment groups led by Apollo Management L.P., Linens ‘n Things said.

 

Robert J. DiNicola, executive chairman of General Nutrition Centers Inc., will succeed Norman Axelrod, the long-time CEO of Linens ‘n Things Inc., upon the consummation of the $1.3 billion pending acquisition of the home textiles and accessories retailer by investment groups led by Apollo Management L.P., the retailer said. Also leaving Linens ‘n Things is president and COO Jack Moore, for whom Apollo has not announced a replacement.

Axelrod, who has served as the retailer’s CEO since April 1988, grew the company from $183 million in annual sales and 144 stores to sales of $2.7 billion with a web site and 542 stores as of Dec. 31, 2005, though 2005’s sales rose only 1.2% over 2004 as comp store sales fell 5.9%. “Under his leadership, the company has evolved into a highly regarded brand and has established itself as one of the key players in the home furnishings industry,” DiNicola said. "I look forward to working with the entire team as we take on the challenges that lie ahead for Linens `n Things. The future is very bright as we build upon the solid foundation in place and take the company to the next level."

Apollo and Linens ‘n Things have said they expect the acquisition to be completed in the first or early second quarter of this year.

DiNicola, with 34 years in retailing, served as CEO of Zale Corp. before taking the top job at General Nutrition Centers. Prior to GNC, he was CEO of the Bon Marche division of Federated Department Stores Inc.

Linens ‘n Things is No. 101 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites.

 

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