Mark Cosby, the new head of Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s full-line stores, put his first imprint on the division Monday by shaking up his management team.
"He's beginning to shape his own team," said a spokeswoman for Sears. She said Cosby, who joined Sears Dec. 1, has finally had the opportunity to establish his priorities.
Kathryn Bufano, who joined Sears in January 2002 as executive vice president of soft lines, was replaced by Mindy Meads. Meads, executive vice president of soft lines for Land's End, joined Sears' ranks when the retailer bought the catalog firm last year.
She will continue to oversee soft lines for Lands' End in her new role.
Also leaving the Hoffman Estates headquarters is Mary Conway, who was executive vice president of store operations.
Cosby promoted Bill White to executive vice president of store operations. White, who has worked for Sears for more than 30 years, was head of Sears' automotive business.
SARS threat: The mysterious disease with the strange name could pose a problem to clothing, footwear, toy and luxury goods retailers if the outbreak in Asian continues to spread.
Cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, have primarily plagued China, Hong Kong and Singapore--places where companies including K-Swiss, Vans and Columbia have nearly all of their products made. If the disease continues to spread, it could hamper production if afflicted workers are unable to make clothes, shoes and other goods.
"Certainly it is going to have to affect a greater number of people than what it has so far to have significant impact on supply," said Carl Steidtmann, chief economist for Deloitte Research in New York. "But the supply chain issues potentially are very real. A retailer's level of inventory is pretty tight. If there are any shortages, we'll see them quicker."
Adding to retail troubles, particularly in the luxury goods division, is the impact the disease could have on sales.
Goldman Sachs has lowered its ratings on the luxury goods sector based on concerns about the U.S. war on Iraq and the SARS outbreak.
Tourism and shopping are down in Southeast Asia, which means fewer people are buying Coach purses, Tiffany jewelry, Louis Vuitton luggage, Montblanc pens and TAG Heuer watches.
U.S.-based Coach and Tiffany & Co. should withstand the decline since most of their sales come from the states, unless SARS spreads to Japan, where Tiffany racks up about one-third of its sales and Coach about 17 percent of its sales.
Done-hill: British luxury goods retailer Alfred Dunhill Ltd. is calling it quits in the United States and closing all but one of its 10 stores in the country. Only the Fifth Avenue location in Manhattan will stay open.
Dunhill executives said its U.S. stores were either too big or too small to turn a profit. The company will concentrate on being a wholesaler to the U.S. market and rely on another company to distribute its products in the states.
The Chicago location at 55 E. Oak St., which opened in August, will close July 31. Dunhill has been a fixture in Chicago retailing since 1958 when it opened on North Michigan Avenue near the Marriott hotel. It moved to Water Tower Place before jumping to Oak Street.
The London-based retailer, which got its start in the 19th Century making accessories for the auto industry, made the Oak Street location its third concept store in the United States.
The company, like many luxury goods retailers, has been trying to relaunch its brand in an attempt to snag the attention of young hipsters.