Former Tommy Hilfiger executive Stephen Donnelly is joining Kmart on March 24 as vice president and general merchandise manager overseeing women’s apparel.

This story first appeared in the March 10, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Donnelly, most recently senior vice president and general merchandise manager of Tommy Hilfiger’s specialty store business, previously worked at Eddie Bauer and A|X Armani Exchange.

He will report to Kim McLaren, senior vice president of Kmart apparel. Kathy Douglas was vice president and general merchandise manager for both women’s and children’s apparel. Douglas still has the vice president and general merchandise manager title, but will now focus solely on children’s.

Donnelly will work with the company’s private label programs and outside vendors.

“We’re trying to get the message out there that there’s unexpected style as well as value at Kmart,” said a spokeswoman. “He’s going to have an important role in helping us continue to shape that message and shape that forward thinking.”

Although not on the forefront of fashion, Kmart is one of the nation’s largest retailers with 1,382 stores.

“Kmart needs a revival program, a program to revive its merchandising, because the customers no longer understand what it stands for,” said retail consultant Walter Loeb.

The chain’s women’s offerings include Jaclyn Smith, Levi Strauss Signature, Route 66, Joe Boxer and Wckd in juniors.

Last year, operating profits at the Kmart division of Sears Holdings Corp. plummeted 57.6 percent to $402 million as sales slid 7.5 percent to $17.26 billion.

Kmart has more than its share of challenges, including competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the perceived price leader, and Target Corp., the cheap-chic discounter, which has stumbled recently.

Hedge fund billionaire Edward Lampert, who serves as Sears’ chairman, is changing the parent company’s structure to a model that consists of five types of businesses, including those in the brand and real estate areas.

Overall net income at Sears Holdings fell 44.6 percent to $826 million last year as sales dipped 4.4 percent to $50.7 billion. Lampert also said the company was considering selling some of its brands, which include Lands’ End and Craftsman, through other retail outlets.