Sears names new CEO after 3-year search


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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — Struggling retailer Sears Holdings Corp. on Wednesday named a new CEO, ending a three-year search that began after its last chief executive resigned amid sales and profit slumps.

The Hoffman Estates company that runs Sears and Kmart said its board had elected Lou D’Ambrosio as its new chief executive officer and president.

D’Ambrosio, 46, served as chief executive of telephone and computer software company Avaya Inc. from 2006 to 2008, before stepping down for medical reasons. Before joining Avaya, D’Ambrosio spent 16 years at IBM, holding executive posts in sales, software and global services.

For the last six months, D’Ambrosio has been working as a consultant to Sears’ board.

He takes the company’s reins from interim CEO W. Bruce Johnson who replaced Aylwin Lewis, who stepped down in February 2008.

With D’Ambrosio taking the helm, Johnson becomes Sears’ executive vice president of its off-mall businesses and supply chain.

The company is controlled by billionaire financier Edward Lampert, who acquired Kmart in 2003 and later bought Sears, Roebuck Co. to form Sears Holdings.

The announcement of the new CEO came just hours before Sears was due to report its fourth-quarter results prior to the stock market’s opening Thursday.

Last month the company signaled that it expected to post fourth-quarter numbers that would be better than what Wall Street analysts had previously forecast.

That would be upbeat news for the company, which saw its third-quarter loss nearly double in part because of weak appliance and clothing sales at Sears stores.

Its revenue at stores open at least a year dropped 4.8 percent in the third quarter. That figure is a key gauge of a retailer’s health because it excludes sales at stores that opened or closed in the past year.

The company has about 3,900 full-line and specialty retail stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Shares in Sears Holdings rose $1.77, or 2 percent, to $89 in extended trading Wednesday. They had ended the regular session down $2.93, or 3.3 percent, at $87.23.

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