George Bellino

George Bellino                    Class of 1966

George Bellino is a 1966 graduate of Canastota High School and a 1970 graduate of Rutgers University. He earned his MBA from Syracuse University.  During his academic years George was well regarded as a competitive athlete.  He was Co-Captain of Canastota’s undefeated Football Team in his Senior Year as well as Section Champion.  He was also President of his Junior and Senior Class at Canastota.  At Rutgers, George was Captain of the Wrestling Team and he was Vice President of his Fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon. 

After graduation, George went on to build a successful career in the Retail Industry.  He was an accomplished C-Suite executive with extensive experience in diverse retail formats.  George began his retail career as an Executive Trainee with Abraham & Straus, Brooklyn, a division of Federated Department Stores (now Macy’s). He progressed from the role of Executive Trainee to Merchandise Manager overseeing all of women’s apparel in their Budget Store.

George served as CEO, President and Chief Merchandise Officer for several growth retail chains including Pennsylvania Fashion (Rue 21), Family Bargain Center, One Price Clothing Stores and TSS.  With an impressive and tenured industry career, George is best known for his leadership at Citi Trends.  In 1997, serving as President of what was then called Allied Stores, a marginally profitable division of Variety Wholesalers, George transformed the company to a profitable Urban Off-Price Retailer. He led a buy-out that created Citi Trends ‘Fashion for Less’ platform.  As President and CEO for the next three years, he rebuilt the merchant team and created a professional infrastructure for the business that would optimize the company’s potential.  In 2005, Citi Trends had an initial public offering which was cited as the number one IPO in the Retail Industry that year.   Whether he was on the athletic playing field or the corporate field of business, George’s core competency has always been in developing and leading team. Bringing internal and external forces together toward a common goal led George, in 2006, to be voted Man of the Year in the Off-Price Industry.

In 2008, George retired.  In 2013, a private equity company recruited him out of retirement to become President and Chief Merchandise Officer of Gabriel Brothers.  This was a particularly challenging endeavor as it was a turnaround situation, complicated by the fact they were transitioning the business from a Founder/Owner situation to a Private Equity backed entity.  In four years, they rebranded the Company and up-leveled the entire operation with a professional operating structure, new merchandise strategy, a new store model and a completely refreshed store fleet.  Gabriel Brothers evolved into a growth company and was successfully sold to a larger private equity firm. 

In 2016, George officially retired.  He has contributed his time to a number of charity organizations as a Board of Director for Soles4Souls as well as Dignity U Wear.  Following retirement, he continues as an Advisor to the Off- Price Industry.  George is currently an active member of the Kiwanis Club.