Robert C. Greening, a California department store executive, died Monday in San Francisco. The cause of death was multiple systems atrophy. He was 78 years old, said his wife, Serena Kokjer Greening.

Greening, who was born in Iona, Mich., graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit.

In 1957, he began working for the J.L. Hudson Co., the major department store in Michigan. During the course of 20 years, he held merchandising and store management positions.

Greening in 1977 was hired by Emporium Capwell, a division of Carter Hawley Hale, as divisional merchandise manager of women’s accessories. He was promoted to general merchandise manager of accessories, cosmetics and shoes, and later held the same position with responsibility over men’s and children’s wear. Greening in 1987 joined The Broadway, the Los Angeles division of CHH, as vice president of stores.

With his background in accessories, Greening in 1990 started Alliance Stores in partnership with his son Michael. The chain had 37 stores in 13 states at its height and sold brands such as Laurel Burch and Coach in factory outlet centers. Greening sold the company in 1996 to a costume jewelry manufacturer. He then joined Enchante Accessories, a New York-based producer of bath-and-body products for the retail industry, where he worked in sales until his retirement in 2010.

In addition to his wife and son Michael, Greening is survived by his other children, Robert Jr., Patrick, Michelle Schmitt and Kelly Kopatsis.

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