Kirkland's CEO to step down

Alderson joined retailer in '86, plans to see out this fiscal year

Home decor retailer Kirkland's this morning announced that President and CEO Robert Alderson plans to retire early next year after almost three decades with the company.

Alderson has told the board of Nashville-based Kirkland's that he will step down at the end of the company's 2013 fiscal year, which will conclude around Feb. 1. The 66-year-old has been with Kirkland's since 1986, when he came on board as chief administrative officer. He was first named president in late 1997 and CEO in March of 2001. Alderson last month returned from a 10-week medical leave when Kirkland's was led by CFO Mike Madden.

Kirkland's Chairman Wilson Orr said Alderson “is an exemplary leader and has given much of himself to Kirkland’s over the past three decades. We obviously respect his desire to step back at the end of the year and will work with him on planning for the appropriate leadership for the next phase of our growth.”

Alderson said now is the right time "to begin recasting the leadership" of Kirkland's, which this morning also reported fourth-quarter earnings of $14.3 million versus $15.2 million the year prior. Per diluted share, profits were 82 cents, five cents better than analysts had expected.

“Over the past five years, we’ve restored Kirkland’s stability and significantly enhanced its profitability,” he said. “We’ve also completed a huge amount of foundational work in systems, e-commerce, marketing, merchandising process, real estate and store operations. Over the course of the year, we will continue to work on substantially upgrading our merchandising talent and leadership.”

Shares of Kirkland's (Ticker: KIRK) were down about 3 percent to $11.15 in pre-market trading. Year to date, they're up about 8 percent.