Belk general counsel Ralph Pitts to retire at the end of January

Belk general counsel Ralph Pitts
Belk general counsel Ralph Pitts Courtesy of Belk

Belk’s general counsel will retire from the Charlotte-based department store chain at the end of January, becoming the latest executive planning to depart amid a sale of the company.

The family-run retailer agreed to be purchased by private equity firm Sycamore Partners in August, and the deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

Ralph Pitts has been at the Charlotte-based department store chain since 1995 and has overseen numerous corporate departments including legal, tax, internal audit and real estate.

“Over the past 20 years, (Pitts) has led several major initiatives at the company, including our consolidation in 1998, our acquisitions, and now the sale to Sycamore Partners – with this transition he made the decision that the timing is right for him to look to the next chapter,” Belk spokeswoman Jessica Graham said.

It’s unclear who will replace Pitts.

Belk executives have said the company’s headquarters will remain in Charlotte. Tim Belk will remain chief executive officer, though his brother, Johnny Belk, will remain the company’s chief operating officer only through the end of January, after which he will leave to pursue “other interests.”

Sycamore entered retention agreements with several Belk executives, including Pitts, that guarantee the executives a cash bonus equal to half their annual base pay regardless of whether the deal goes through, an August securities filing showed. They will receive a second bonus worth half their salary on Feb. 19 if the two companies go through with the deal.

Before Belk, Pitts was a partner at the King and Spalding law firm in Atlanta. Pitts, whose age was listed as 61 in Belk’s most recent proxy filing, is a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill and Harvard Law School.

Pitts replaced Leroy Robinson, who had been with Belk for 44 years.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta