McGuire Leaves CMO Post at Sears Holdings

Sears Brand Marketing Chief Gerstein Will Take Over

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NEW YORK ( -- Sears Holdings Chief Marketing Officer Maureen McGuire is leaving the retail company. She will be replaced by Richard Gerstein, the CMO for the Sears, Roebuck & Co. brand, the marketer said today.
Maureen McGuire
Maureen McGuire

Ms. McGuire has been CMO of Sears Holdings since 2005. Since joining the retailer, parent company of Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Kmart, Ms. McGuire has been working to reshape both the company's marketing division and reignite customer interest in the flagging brands.

Key hire
Mr. Gerstein, who joined the company in August of last year from Alberto-Culver Beauty, was one of Ms. McGuire's key hires.

Since joining the retailer, Ms. McGuire had named CMOs at Sears, Sears Home and Kmart, as well as a senior VP-customer relationship marketing and a VP-marketing services. She also introduced The Sears Book -- a throwback to the much-loved Sears catalog -- and Mr. Bluelight, a nod to Kmart's famous blue-light specials.

"During her time with Sears Holdings, Maureen oversaw the creation of new brand positionings for both Sears and Kmart, revitalized and improved marketing for our brands and championed a heightened commitment to spending our marketing dollars in more impactful ways," said Christian Brathwaite, a spokesman for the company. "She has rebuilt the marketing organization, attracting strong talent and expertise from outside the company as well as helping develop the good talent that was already here."

Personal reasons cited
Ms. McGuire told her team yesterday that she will be leaving at the end of the month for personal reasons, the company said. She has said she had been commuting to Sears Holdings headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Ill., from Connecticut.

Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Edward Lampert personally approached Ms. McGuire with the offer of a chief-marketer position, based on her experience with the turnaround of the IBM brand, where she had spent 30 years.

Woman to Watch
"The opportunity was so fascinating," Ms. McGuire told Ad Age this past spring. "Here are really great iconic American brands that were [struggling]. We needed to put some luster on them and bring them back into the 21st century. ... I felt like I had experience doing that."

Ms. McGuire was honored as an Ad Age Woman to Watch at a luncheon in New York last week.

In June, Kmart Senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer Bill Stewart left the company to become a full-time volunteer on a campaign to protect gay marriage in California. Andrew Stein is serving as interim CMO for Kmart. A permanent replacement has not yet been named.

The departure of two high-level marketing execs in such a short period of time is surely a blow for the already struggling retailer. The company posted a net loss of $56 million in the first quarter. It is slated to post second-quarter results Aug. 28.
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