NEW YORK — Thinking outside the box, Sears, Roebuck and Co. has called upon the Colonel for some help at its stores.

The struggling retailer on Monday named Mark S. Cosby as president of the Sears full-line department stores, a new position embodying a range of responsibilities. Cosby joins the $41 billion Sears on Dec. 1 from KFC, USA, based in Louisville, where he was chief operating officer since 2000, leading company and franchise operations for the 5,300-unit restaurant chain, formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Sears has been trying to enliven its 870 department stores with better soft-line assortments. It acquired Lands’ End last June and introduced the Covington private label collection this fall, after months of weeding out weak performing lines, including cosmetics.

At one time, Sears chairman and chief executive officer, Alan Lacy, was seeking a new chief merchant, but with the appointment of Cosby, the formation of a top team for the full-line stores is believed to be completed.

Cosby, 43, will lead all aspects of the full-line store organization, including merchandise, operations and supply chain, and will report to Lacy. Reporting to Cosby will be three executive vice presidents and general managers: Mary Conway, full-line store operations; Kathy Bufano, softlines, and Lyle Heidemann, hardlines. Gus Pagonis, senior vice president of supply chain management, also will report to Cosby.

"For some time, Alan was looking for someone to head retail, but he wasn’t looking for a particular retail expertise. He was looking for the right individual, with experience leading a national, consumer-driven business with intense brand recognition and brand development," said a Sears spokeswoman.

"Mark’s appointment fulfills my objective to bring all aspects of the full-line stores under the leadership of a dynamic and experienced executive with proven successes in strategy and operations at leading national, consumer-driven companies," said Lacy in a statement.

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