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Sears Hometown CEO Stepping Down

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — W. Bruce Johnson will relinquish his post as president/CEO of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores on Aug. 1.

The decision was made by mutual agreement with the retailer’s board, the company said, and a global executive search firm has been retained to help find a successor.

Johnson was the first to helm the Sears specialty chain, which was spun off from Sears Holdings in 2012.

After a promising first-year showing, the company turned in a string of disappointing results, leading to a $4.6 million loss and a 7.7 percent decline in comp sales in its last quarter.

Sears Hometown is comprised of 1,260 independent and franchised small-format stores that variously sell appliances, hardware, tools, lawn and garden equipment, and refurbished and discontinued merchandise. It ranked fifth in TWICE’s Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers Report with $1.6 billion in white-goods sales in 2013.

Johnson will also give up his seat on the Hometown board. He ends a 15-year run with the Sears/Kmart family, which included a stint as interim president/CEO of Sears Holdings. Before that he served as supply-chain operations executive VP. He joined Kmart in 2003 from Carrefour, the French hypermarket chain, where he was director of organization and systems.

Most recently Johnson launched a major majap overhaul of the Hometown stores that calls for a wider assortment; new merchandising concepts; refreshed fixtures and signage; touchscreen kiosks; and comprehensive training for sales associates.

“The board and I are very grateful for Bruce’s many contributions and efforts since the company was separated from Sears Holdings Corp. in October 2012,” said chairman William Harker. “We will miss Bruce’s strong leadership and insights.”

Added Johnson: “I am proud of the company’s accomplishments since the separation. I will be leaving an excellent team in place that is dedicated to the company’s success. I believe the company has a bright future.”