KMART SAID TO BE WAITING FOR GODDU
Byline: David Moin
NEW YORK — Kmart Corp. is close to naming a new chief merchant and it’s expected to be Roger Goddu, the former chairman and chief executive officer of the defunct Montgomery Ward, according to sources.
Reportedly, Goddu will be named vice chairman of merchandising for hard and soft goods, a new position at Kmart. The bankrupt discounter had no information Wednesday. It was not clear whether Goddu and Kmart had come to final terms of his employment.
Currently, the top merchant is Cecil Kearse, who holds the title of executive vice president for hard and soft lines. It’s unclear what role Kearse will play in the future, but he would be superceded by the new vice chairman. Goddu will report to James Adamson, chairman and ceo of Kmart.
Goddu presided over Ward’s from 1997 to 2001, when the company was liquidated. He did make some progress in trying to revive Ward’s, developing a store prototype and improving sales, but it was too little too late as G.E., the parent corporation, decided to pull the plug after years of pouring money into the ailing business.
Industry sources said Goddu is a good pick for Kmart, considering his experience as a merchant in hard and soft lines and his Chapter 11 experience at Ward’s. Prior to Ward’s, he was president of Toys “R” Us for the U.S., a general merchant manager at Toys “R” Us. and a merchant at Target. Adamson is also an alumnus of Target, where the two executives are believed to have worked together.
“These guys are going to be very focused on getting Kmart out of Chapter 11 because that’s when they hit their big pay days,” said one source. “The question becomes, does the company become really focused on getting out of Chapter 11 or building itself for the future?”
Kmart has had an exodus of executives since it filed for Chapter 11 protection on Jan. 22, including the departure of Chuck Conaway, former chairman and ceo who left in March. This past Monday, as reported, Lorna Nagler, senior vice president and general merchandise manager over women’s, men’s, girls’, boys’, infants’, toddlers, toys, jewelry and accessories, resigned to become president of Catherines specialty chain for large sizes. She was considered Kmart’s second-highest ranking merchant. No successor was named, but it’s possible that Kearse will fill in for her.