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Sears begins CEO search as Lewis steps down

Sears Holdings Corp.’s board of directors has appointed W. Bruce Johnson, currently EVP, supply chain and operations, as interim CEO/president following the news that current CEO Aylwin B. Lewis will depart the company after February 2.

Lewis’ departure from his executive position as well as his place on the board of directors comes as part of the recent company restructuring around five business units: operating businesses, support, brands, online and real estate. Press inquiries were directed to a released statement.

“We are entering a new phase in Sears’ evolution as a multichannel retailer, as reflected by the new operational structure we recently announced, and the board has determined that now is the right time to put in place new leadership to take the company forward,” Lewis explained in the release.

He added that the new company structure would give unit leaders greater autonomy and accountability for their businesses. Each business unit will have a designated leader and an advisory group comprised of senior Sears Holdings executives.

The news comes at a time that the company is facing declining sales and growing scrutiny of its privacy practices.

“I am excited to be taking on this role and I am focused on continuing to transform Sears into a stronger, more efficient company,” said Johnson, in a statement. “While Sears and our industry are facing many challenges, I believe that we are taking all the right steps to build a great retailer.”

Sears chairman Edward S. Lampert will lead the board’s search for a permanent CEO.

Lewis, who joined Sears when it purchased Kmart in November 2004, is credited with playing a key role in the integration of the two brands. Prior to his work with Kmart, Lewis was president, chief multibranding and operating officer of restaurant franchiser YUM Brands Inc. He sits on the director’s board of The Walt Disney Co., Catalyst and Halliburton.

Johnson joined Kmart in 2003 as SVP of supply chain and operations and at the time of the merger was appointed EVP of supply chain and operations for the combined company. He was named chairman in 2005 and took on store operations in 2006.

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