By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Aylwin Lewis, formerly president/CEO of Kmart, will succeed Alan Lacy as president/CEO of Sears Holdings effective Sept. 30 as part of the chains' ongoing consolidation.
Lacy will continue to serve as vice chairman, and will work directly with chairman Edward Lampert on merger integration and strategic issues, the company said.
Lampert will also assume a more hands-on role in Sears Holdings' operations by directing the company's marketing, merchandising and design functions, and its e-commerce and Lands' End businesses.
Effective with his promotion, Lewis will be responsible for the combined company's 3,900 stores, plus home services, finance, legal, supply chain, information technology and human resources. His former Kmart post will not be filled.
The move represents a further step toward the consolidation of Sears' and Kmart's operations. To date, the integration efforts have included the elimination of about 1,400 positions between the retailers' combined home office functions, and the relocation of 513 personnel from Kmart headquarters.
The company also plans to convert about 400 Kmart stores to its new Sears Essentials format over the next two to three years.
Lacy, a former Sears chief financial officer, had served as the company's chairman and president/CEO since 2000. He has recently been under pressure from Sears' shareholders and financial analysts to improve the chain's lackluster performance, and for his now-controversial $1.9 billion cash acquisition of Lands' End.
Lewis joined Kmart last year from fast food conglomerate Yum! Brands where he was president and chief multi-branding and operating officer.
“Alan, Aylwin and I believe these changes will achieve greater clarity in our operating management and align this corporate structure with our vision of Sears Holdings,” Lampert said. “Our goal is to build one company with multiple ways of connecting with our customers, including our various store formats, online offerings, service relationships and credit products. Alan will continue to make substantial contributions to Sears Holdings and to provide his leadership and judgment on our merger integration opportunities and strategic issues.
“We have made rapid progress in integrating the two companies,” Lampert continued. “This is the next logical step in the transformation of the company into a more customer-focused organization. Sears Holdings has the potential to be a great retailer, and we are striving to create a great retail experience for consumers wherever and however they choose to shop. Our focus will be the customer.”
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