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Sears pares management lineup
As part of a wide-ranging restructuring, Sears, Roebuck and Co. trimmed its executive suite and raised the possibility that additional jobs could be lost or outsourced at the Hoffman Estates-based department store chain.
Sears Chief Executive Alan Lacy told workers in an e-mail on Wednesday that he was reducing the number of managers who report to him to 11 from 15.
Sears started to review its corporate structure in December to reduce costs to better compete against retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. that are stealing shoppers for general merchandise. At the same time, Home Depot Inc. and Lowe's Corp. are stealing share from Sears' key categories such as appliances.
Lacy, whose company last month announced plans to farm out 260 information technology jobs, also noted that the coming restructuring--called Project Sharp--will identify "potential work takeout and contracted service opportunities."
That could mean farming out some of Sears' work.
"An important goal of Project Sharp has been to improve our organizational structure to make Sears more effective and responsive," Lacy's e-mail said. He noted there will be "additional structural adjustments" for some departments that could occur this quarter.
That's not necessarily code for "layoffs," although Sears has acknowledged since December that the restructuring could result in another round of layoffs.
Of the four executives who will no longer report to Lacy, one is Lucinda Baier, former general manager of credit and financial products. She has left the company to pursue other interests.
Formerly reporting to Lacy but now reporting to other Sears executives are Gerald Kelly, chief information officer; Sara LaPorta, senior vice president of strategy; and Jeff Jones, executive vice president of merchandising operations.
Separately, William "Gus" Pagonis, 62, senior vice president of supply chain management, will retire in the next few months.
"I continue to have strong confidence in each executive, and the choices I made were difficult," Lacy said.
Sears' executive ranks have been a revolving door in recent years.
Sears eliminated about 40,000 jobs in 2003, ending the year with 201,000 workers.
But among the top 15 officers at Sears, six were new in 2003.