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Lewis Out, Sears Mulls Restoration Bid

Six days after announcing a streamlined managerial structure, Sears Holdings Corp. said good-bye to president and ceo Aylwin Lewis, who was to step down Feb. 2, the final day of its fiscal year.

As a new retail year begins, Sears is also mulling a possible adjusted bid on its previous acquisition proposal to specialty merchandiser Restoration Hardware.

The $50 billion retailer, which also last month cut its projections roughly in half for fourth-quarter and full-year earnings, has begun a search for its next permanent ceo, the company said. Lewis will also resign from the board of directors. Operations chief Bruce Johnson has been tapped for interim ceo.

Chairman Edward Lampert lauded Lewis for his "key role in the integration of Kmart and Sears and in implementing important initiatives to enhance the profitability of the combined business."

Lewis, who was president and ceo of Kmart at the time of the March 2005 merger of Kmart and Sears, was elevated to president and ceo of Sears Holdings in September 2005.

Johnson, who joined Kmart in 2003 as svp, supply chain and operations, was named evp supply chain and operations upon the merger. He previously worked for French hypermarket chain Carrefour and for Colgate-Palmolive.

Separately, Sears Holdings said in an SEC filing Jan. 27 that, in light of last week's amendment by Restoration Hardware to a merger agreement with Catterton Partners that slashed the price of that proposed acquisition to $4.50 per share, Sears no longer intends to pursue acquisition of RH at its previous offer of $6.75 per share. Sears Holdings said it is evaluating the amended offer and will continue to mull its options. Sears Holdings owns about 13.6% of the voting shares of Restoration Hardware.

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