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Sears Shuffles Execs, Gets Best Buy’s Walden

Sears Holdings dismissed the chief marketing officer of its Sears division and announced the departure of the company’s chief financial officer at month’s end.

Joan Chow, the senior-most marketing executive to remain after chairman Eddie Lampert acquired the company three years ago, left her post as senior VP and chief marketing officer after nine years with the chain. She was promoted to her last position in 2005 from marketing VP.

Chow will be succeeded on an interim basis by Maureen McGuire, executive VP and chief marketing officer of Sears Holdings, which is comprised of Sears, Kmart and Sears Canada. A search is underway for a permanent replacement, the company said.

Chow’s departure was followed two days later by the announcement that Craig Monaghan, executive VP/chief financial officer, will leave the company at the end of the month. Monaghan joined Sears last September from AutoNation, and reported to Lampert’s top lieutenant William Crowley, executive VP and chief administrative officer of Sears Holdings. Crowley, who also sits on the Sears board, will assume Monaghan’s duties until a successor is found.

The announcements came days after Sears Holdings disclosed comparable store sales declines of 1.2 percent at Kmart and 5.6 percent at Sears for the nine weeks ended Dec. 30, due in part to “lower transaction volumes” at the former and diminished majaps sales at the later. Nevertheless, the company is projecting an increase of as much as 28 percent in fourth-quarter profits as Lampert cuts overhead, limits capital investment and marketing expenditures, and reaps robust returns from derivatives trading.

In other Sears news, Best Buy veteran John Walden will join the company today as executive VP/chief customer officer, with responsibility for services, marketing and the direct commerce businesses. He will also oversee customer-focused strategies and new business development, and will report directly to Lampert as a member of the office of the chairman.

During his eight years at Best Buy, Walden helped launch as president of the retailer’s Internet and direct marketing division, was executive VP of human capital and leadership, and most recently served as executive VP of the customer business group.

“I am very excited to add John’s retail experience and demonstrated track record of success to the Sears Holdings’ management team,” Lampert said. “We believe that John will help us accelerate the company’s journey to become more entrepreneurial and customer driven.”