Retailing: End of an Adventure

A few years ago, Eugene Ferkauf, the "duke of discounting" and founder of E. J. Korvette, Inc., discoursed about his career. "It's an adventure," said Ferkauf, whose chain came to include 45 department stores and 60 supermarkets, "and I'm going to stick with it and take it as far as it will go. Maybe some day it won't be an adventure, and if that happens—well, it hasn't happened." Last week Ferkauf apparently decided that it had. And as a result, he quit.

Just 17 months ago, to solve the problems of falling earnings and an uneven top management that was...

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