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Ulta CEO Departs But Sales Keep Growing

Chuck Rubin, president and CEO of Ulta Beauty will surrender his executive position and directorship there, effective February 21, to become CEO of Michaels Stores. As it related Rubin’s exit, Ulta also announced sales gains in the fiscal 2012 fourth quarter.

Ulta said its board of directors has appointed Dennis Eck, current non-executive chairman, interim CEO.

Ulta insisted that Rubin’s departure is not related to any disputes with management or the board, the retailer’s operational performance, financial condition or issues regarding the integrity of the company’s financial statements or accounting policies and practices.

“My choice to pursue an opportunity at another company was not easy, but I believe it is the right decision for me and my family,” Rubin commented in a statement announcing his departure. “I have very much enjoyed my tenure as president and CEO at Ulta Beauty, working alongside some of the industry’s finest talent. I am proud of what we have accomplished together and am confident that the company will continue to drive value creation for shareholders and other important stakeholders through the execution of its growth strategy.”

The board has formed a search committee comprising Eck, Robert DiRomualdo, Charles Heilbronn and Kenneth Stevens to search for a permanent CEO. It is in the process of retaining a leading executive recruiting firm to advise on the search.

Even as it revealed the executive change, Ulta announced that fourth quarter fiscal 2012 total sales increased 30% to $757 million versus the same period last year as comparable store sales increased 8%.

The company noted it was reaffirming guidance for income per diluted share for the 2012 fourth quarter to be in the range of 96 cents to 98 cents. Income per diluted share for the 2011 fourth quarter was 73 cents, Ulta asserted.