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Coldwater Creek CEO stepping down soon

Thu., Nov. 29, 2012, midnight

Sandpoint women’s apparel retailer Coldwater Creek said its CEO and co-founder Dennis Pence will step down at the end of the year.

Jill Brown Dean, who has been with the publicly traded company since 2011 as president and chief merchandising officer, will take over the CEO job Jan. 1.

Dean has more than 25 years of experience in retail and merchandising. Before moving to North Idaho, she was president of the Limited Too division of Tween Brands. Earlier, Dean spent 18 years in various merchandising leadership roles with Limited Brands, including president and CEO of the Lane Bryant division from 1994 to 2001.

Coldwater announced Dean’s base salary will be $850,000. Other incentives are added to the contract she’s signed, including options to buy 150,000 shares of common stock and 150,000 restricted stock units, which will be vested based on her reaching a number of performance targets.

Pence said, in a release, that Dean’s appointment “gives me great confidence in her ability to continue to lead the turnaround of our company, positioning us for a vibrant and successful second chapter in our history.”

In July, the company announced it received $65 million in funding from Golden Gate Capital, a California private equity firm. Golden Gate has invested in more than a dozen major retailers, including Payless Shoe Source, Eddie Bauer, Zales and J.Jill.

Pence founded the company along with his wife, Ann Pence, in 1984. The company incorporated in 1988 and moved into offices in Sandpoint’s Cedar Bridge. It later built a headquarters in Sandpoint.

He served as CEO from 1984 to 2000 and from 2002 until his first retirement in 2007.

In 2009 Pence returned as CEO, taking over for David Griesemer.

With Dean moving to CEO, Coldwater named Michele Donnan Martin as a senior vice president for general merchandise.

After Jan. 1, Pence will remain a director and continue to serve as board chair until January 2014. A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission noted that Pence will receive a retirement payment of $2 million. During his tenure in 2013 as board chair Pence will also receive a retainer of $375,000.

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