Sears names IBM veteran its CEO

By Sandra M. Jones
Posted Feb. 23 at 6:55 p.m.

Sears Holdings Corp. named IBM veteran Lou D’Ambrosio CEO and president, effective Thursday.

D’Ambrosio succeeds W. Bruce Johnson, who has served as interim CEO and president since January 2008.

D’Ambrosio, who spent 16 years at IBM, was CEO of telecommunications company Avaya Inc. from 2006 to 2008 where he led Avaya through a going-private transaction. Over the last six months, D’Ambrosio has worked closely with Sears Holdings as a consultant to the board on “key strategic and operational initiatives,” Sears said in a statement.

Investors have speculated that Edward Lampert, Sears’ chairman and majority stakeholder, could take the Hoffman Estates-based retailer private.

D’Ambrosio stepped down from his post as Avaya CEO in 2008 for medical reasons, Sears said. Prior to joining Avaya in 2002, he spent 16 years at IBM.

Johnson, for his part, has been named executive vice president for off-mall businesses and supply chain. Lampert, a hedge fund guru, brought Johnson with him to Sears in 2005 when he engineered the combination of Kmart and Sears. Johnson had been a supply chain operations executive with Lampert at the discount chain Kmart.

Johnson will remain on the board until Sears’ annual meeting in May.

“From the beginning of our CEO search, we were determined to find a leader with information and technology experience who could catalyze the transformation of our portfolio of businesses in the context of the evolution of the retail industry that is occurring more broadly,” Lampert said in a press release. ” Having worked closely with Lou and observing his business acumen, compelling leadership style, performance orientation and customer first approach, I am confident that Lou is the right person to lead and transform Sears Holdings.”


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