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Podany steps down as ShopKo chief

After more than seven years with the retailer, Bill Podany has stepped down as president, ceo and director of ShopKo for personal reasons, the company announced. Board member Jeffrey Girard has been named interim ceo. He was also named vice chairman, finance and administration.

Jack Eugster, who remains chairman, said the board will commence a search for a new ceo as soon as possible and hoped the process would be "quicker rather than longer."

Eugster also noted that in the past 18 months the company has worked on its three key goals of reducing debt, improving return on assets and establishing a profitable, growth-oriented model at its Pamida division. Now that it has achieved a $203 million debt reduction and strengthened its balance sheets, it will focus on the next stage of growth later this year, though he declined to be more specific.

For the permanent ceo position, Eugster said that the company is "seeking a qualified ceo with broad ranging perspective on the industry, with a strategic and future kind of orientation, as well as strong merchandising skills."

A director of the company since October 1991, Girard has worked in retailing since 1973. From 1990 to 1997, he served as executive vp and cfo at Supervalu Inc., a Minneapolis-based grocery retailer and food distributor.

Podany became ShopKo's fourth president and ceo in January 1999 after five years overseeing the company's merchandising, marketing, logistics and store planning. He was responsible for helping to craft and implement ShopKo's Vision 2000 repositioning strategy.

Once at the helm of ShopKo, Podany moved quickly to take advantage of the booming retail environment, creating a new merchandising plan called Beyond 2000, acquiring the Pamida chain and inaugurating a store-opening campaign that took the ShopKo chain from 317 stores to 366 stores in 23 states.

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