Shares of regional department store operator Bon-Ton Stores (NASDAQ:BONT), which owns the Bon-Ton and Elder-Beerman names, barely moved yesterday on average trading volume following news that the company named a new CEO. Generally speaking, a new top dog should be big news for any company, but investors probably prefer it this way: It's not a big story because it's not a big surprise.

Executive defections are often big news, especially when they're unexpected or unplanned. We've covered such stories in the past: In June, (NASDAQ:DSCM) dropped a Friday night bomb on investors. Earlier that month, Landry's Restaurants (NYSE:LNY) slid the news of its CFO's departure into an SEC filing. There are plenty of other examples.

That's not what's going on here, however. Outgoing Bon-Ton CEO Tim Grumbacher, who's also the company's chairman, announced his plans to step down last November. "Bud" Bergren, meanwhile, used to run Elder-Beerman, which Bon-Ton acquired last October. (Grumbacher will remain chairman, while Bergren will join the board.) In short, the succession looks logical and reflects a plan put in place months ago.

Sometimes things happen that can't be avoided. The importance of succession planning came to the forefront earlier this year when McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) Jim Cantalupo died of a heart attack in April. The company moved quickly to fill the spot with an experienced company hand. More recently, meanwhile, Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) investors saw their shares fall on news that Steve Jobs had cancer surgery earlier this month.

The best-laid plans, and all that.... Well, no plan is impermeable. But the pain and adjustment of executive succession is something that can be mitigated somewhat with careful planning. Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) is one company that has worked to soothe investors and employees in this manner. Now, it appears, Bon-Ton is another.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any companies in this story.