Shop Talk

Kmart snags Sears CFO, but Sears is ready with a veteran hire of its own.
Michelle GabrielleMay 4, 2001

Kmart Corp. went shopping for a new CFO, and landed Jeffrey Boyer, CFO of its fierce competitor, Sears, Roebuck and Co., the nation’s second biggest retailer.

“Jeff Boyer’s retail and consumer goods financial experience makes him the ideal candidate for Kmart’s CFO post,” Chairman and CEO Chuck Conway said in a statement. “He brings strong financial and operations experience that will serve Kmart well as we dramatically improve execution and our capital productivity,” he added.

In turn, Sears named Paul Liska to the EVP and CFO positions, effective June 1. In addition to finance, Liska, 45, will be responsible for the company’s information technology activities. He was formerly EVP and CFO for The St. Paul Cos. Inc. since 1997. He had announced his resignation from the insurance company back in March.

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Boyer’s tenure at Sears also included titles such as controller and VP of finance for the company’s full-line stores. Before that, the 43 year-old had held senior-level financial positions with Nutrasweet and Pillsbury. Coincidentally, Boyers had also previously worked at Quaker Oats, as did Liska.

As Kmart’s new CFO, Boyer, succeeds Martin Welch, 52, who has accepted early retirement from the CFO post he has held since joining Kmart in 1995.

Last year, Kmart said goodbye to two other executive retirees: the company’s former chairman, president and CEO, Floyd Hall retired in June 2000; former vice chairman Michael Bozic retired in October 2000.

Before joining St. Paul Cos., Liska had been president and CEO of Deerfield, Ill.-based Specialty Foods Corp., after starting there as CFO. Liska also has held senior finance and information systems positions with Quaker Oats and Baxter Travenol/American Hospital Supply Corp.He is also a winner in CFO Magazine’s CFO Excellence Awards.

During his last year at St. Paul, Liska earned about $5.5 million, nearly $4 million of which was in exercised options, as recently reported.

In his last year at Kmart, Welch took home $430,425 in salary, $100,000 in bonus, and $39,200 in other compensation, which includes company contributions to its savings and retirement plan.