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New NARM Chair Leaves Virgin CEO Post

28 Sep, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Glen Ward's surprise departure as four-year CEO of North American retail operations for the Virgin Entertainment Group appears to have little effect on his recent appointment as chairman of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM).

A Virgin spokesperson said Ward left the company Sept. 17, and Simon Wright, CEO of Virgin International, had taken over Ward's Santa Monica, Calif.-based CEO duties, which include overseeing 21 stores nationwide. She wouldn't comment on whether a search is underway for a permanent replacement.

It was widely assumed that Ward's position with NARM would help strengthen a beleaguered music retail industry beset with piracy issues and indifferent consumers.

In a statement, Ward said he would fulfill his duties as NARM chairman and welcomed the new challenge.

Jim Donio, acting president of NARM, said the organization would stand behind Ward. “Glen has already contributed so much to the organization, and we are looking forward to continuing our work with him and focusing on the goals we've established,” Donio said.

Ward's appointment and subsequent departure from the music industry isn't without precedent, as former NARM chairman David Schlang spent most of his tenure outside the industry shortly after exiting Alliance Entertainment Corp.

NARM is in talks with the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) to merge. According to sources familiar with the conversations, the VSDA initiated last summer's merger discussions. Since that initial interest, however, both organizations have had better-than-expected conventions, and one source said both sides are “feeling their oats” and “who knows if the merger is even going to happen.”

VSDA spokesperson Sean Bersell denied the spectre of second thoughts, saying key issues being discussed include co-locations for next year's trade shows.“[The merger talk] is going very well,” he said.

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