Bonwit Teller, a fashionable New York-based retailer, is expected to open its first Washington area store early in 1978, informed sources said yesterday.

Joel Schumacher, the president of Bonwit's, confirmed yesterday that his firm is "very interested" and "is looking" at potential Washington area sites. Others sources said Bonwit will locate at White Flint Mall on Rockville Pike, where two key competitors - Bloomingdale's and Lord & Taylor - plan to open major stores in a few months.

The first Bonwit store here probably will be ready to open about a year after the new White Flint shopping center opens during the coming spring. The mall will include smaller retail stores and restaurants in addition to Bloomies, Lord & Taylor and Bonwit's.

In Nashville, meanwhile, directors of Genesco Corp., present firm of Bonwit's yesterday dismissed Franklin M. Jarman as president and chief executive officer. A clothing and shoe manufacturer. Genesco owns Henri Bendel Flagg Bros., Jarman's Shoes as well as Bonwit Teller.

Six of Genesco's 10 directors requested yesterday's meeting and sought Jarmen's ouster because of the company's lagging profitability. In a meeting that lasted nearly 12 hours, Jarman has replaced by 72-year old William M. Blackie, a director emeritus and former Genesco officer for over 40 years.

Blackie will run the company while a committee of the board searches for a new permanent chief executive. Jarman will continue to hold a title of chairman but will be given only "such duties and such authority as may be given him" by Blackie.

An announcement by Genesco last night said the decision on Jarman was unanimous. The atmosphere at com- pany headquarters in Nashville was described as tense throughout the special board meeting and a wire service reporter was ousted from the building.

In a statement made public as he walked into the meeting, Jarman had said it would be "inappropriate and contrary to the interest of stockholders" to make any radical shift in management at that time. Genesco posted a profit in the year ended last July 31 of $16 million compared with a loss the previous year of $14 million.

Bonwit operates 13 stores in New York, Boston, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Palm Beach, Philadephia and Troy, Mich., with annual sales of about $120 million. Overall, Genesco sales exceed $1.1 billion a year.

Known as a chic specially store that concentrates on women's wear, Bonwit's was one of the first major stores to champion the medi-length skirts in 1970. The retailer also sells children's clothing, menswear ($45 shirts, $450 suits,) accessories and artifacts.

Schumacher has been credited with a recent rejuvenation at Bonwit's Fifth Avenue store, including a new main floor, after moving to the New York firm from I. Magnin on the West Coast.

Bonwit's long has been interested in the Washington market but never before was able to reach agreement on a site. In 1957, Bowit's was ready to purchase a site at Wisconsin Avenue and O Street NW but zoning difficulties prevented construction. In more recent years, Bonwit's has been involved in negotiations for various buildings in the Chevy Chase area, including the shopping center where Neiman Marcus will open next fall.