NEW YORK — Julian Day, Kmart’s president and chief executive, has added the responsibilities of chief merchant, at least temporarily.

William Underwood, executive vice president, sourcing and global operations, resigned from the company on Tuesday. As reported, he functioned as the company’s chief merchant throughout most of the discounter’s stay in bankruptcy court. When Kmart exited Chapter 11 on May 6, Underwood was still acting as the merchandise manager even though Day had said he hoped to have a chief merchant in place by the time Kmart exited bankruptcy.

According to a spokesman, Day will now oversee the merchandising responsibilities until a new chief merchant is named.

Several incumbent Kmart executives were elevated to new positions on May 22, but no one was assigned responsibility for apparel merchandising, which were added to Underwood’s purview. With Underwood resuming his retirement, the absence of an apparel merchant is more conspicuous.

However, according to the spokesman, apparel vendors should still contact the divisional vice presidents of the individual departments with whom they are working, as was the practice during Underwood’s tenure. Divisional vice presidents who reported to Underwood now report to Day.

Underwood, 62, joined the company in 1962 and retired from Kmart in 1999 as a senior vice president for global operations, corporate brands and quality assurance. He came out of retirement to assist the discounter in June 2002.

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