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Ex-CEO of Sears Roebuck to Leave Its New Parent Company

Alan Lacy ran the retail giant as it sold its credit card unit, bought Lands' End and agreed to be acquired by rival Kmart.

July 12, 2006|From Reuters

Sears Holdings Corp. said Tuesday that Vice Chairman Alan Lacy, who led Sears, Roebuck & Co. through the purchase of Lands' End, the sale of its credit card business and the chain's sale to Kmart, is leaving the company, effective July 29.

Lacy was replaced as chief executive last fall, and was widely expected to step down as vice chairman sometime in July. Sears Holdings disclosed in its proxy statement this year that Lacy stood to make millions in bonuses and stock options if he left the company in the 30 days after June 30.

Lacy will also resign from the boards of Sears Holdings and Sears Canada on July 29, the company said.

Before serving as vice chairman and CEO, Lacy served as CEO and chairman of Sears, Roebuck, beginning in 2000, and was also the retailer's chief financial officer from 1995 to 1997.

He struggled to reverse years of slumping sales at Sears stores, despite acquiring well-known clothing brands such as Lands' End and Structure.

Lacy orchestrated the sale of Sears, Roebuck's credit card business in 2003, generating billions of dollars in cash for shareholders and driving up the stock price.

He also oversaw the launch of Sears Grand, a store format designed to help the retailer expand away from traditional shopping malls. The stores sell a wide range of items including milk and refrigerators and remain part of Sears Holdings' current strategy.

But Lacy will probably be remembered most for selling the century-old Sears, Roebuck chain to Kmart in 2005, a deal that combined two ailing American icons to form the No. 3 U.S. mass retailer.

Hedge fund manager Edward Lampert, who brought Kmart out of bankruptcy protection, took over as chairman of the combined company and soon put himself in charge of marketing and merchandising.

Lacy remained CEO from March 2005, when the Kmart deal was completed, until Sept. 30, when he was replaced by Aylwin Lewis, who had been Kmart CEO.

Analysts saw that move as an early sign that Lacy's days at Sears Holdings were numbered. The next clue came in March, when the retailer detailed certain benefits that Lacy would receive if he left the company after June 30.

According to the proxy statement, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 16, Lacy's employment agreement was amended in September 2005. Provisions were added that guaranteed him cash, bonuses and early vesting of stock options if he terminated his employment in the 30 days after June 30.

Shares of Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings closed up $3.66 to $156.45.

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