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Sears Names New CE Chief

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Holdings has named Karen Austin to the new post of president of its home electronics business unit.

Austin, formerly the company’s chief information officer, will oversee A/V, home office and entertainment for all Sears, Kmart and off-mall format stores, and is responsible for all related functions including buying, merchandising, vendor relationships, marketing and advertising.

Reporting to Austin is Jonathan Magasanik, who continues as VP/general merchandise manager of home electronics.

Austin’s new role corresponds to the post held in appliances by major appliance president Doug Moore and in tools and lawn-and-garden by John Froman, both ex-Circuit City execs.

“As part of our new operating model and to grow those businesses in which we can differentiate ourselves from the competition, we’re pleased to be able to leverage a leader with Karen’s diverse experience,” said Bruce Johnson, interim CEO and president. “She drove strong results in our IT organization with a keen focus on our customers and will bring that same discipline to her new role.”

Austin had served as chief information officer since 2005 and will be succeeded by Timothy Kasbe, who joined Sears from Reliance Retail, a diversified retail chain in India with 978 stores.

Austin was previously senior VP and chief information officer at Kmart and had also served as interim chief marketing officer for the chain.