People

Another Year, Another New CFO for Sears

Stepping in through the revolving door is Michael Collins, a longtime General Electric executive.
Stephen TaubOctober 13, 2008

Sears, struggling retailer that once was the world’s largest, has replaced its CFO for a third consecutive year.

Joining Sears as senior vice president, finance is General Electric veteran Michael Collins. He will succeed J. Miles Reidy as CFO at the end of the 2008 fiscal year. Sears said Reidy is stepping down to attend to a family issue.

At the time Reidy was appointed in September of last year, Sears had been without a permanent CFO for eight months, following the January 2007 resignation of Craig Monaghan after just five months on the job.

Reidy’s appointment was somewhat controversial, given that his background was not in retail but in banking.

He joined Sears from Capital One Financial, where his last position was as a financial cost executive, reporting to the chief risk officer. Before coming to Capital One he worked at Chevy Chase Bank FSB, First Commerce, and Mellon Bank.

At the time Sears announced his hire, it emphasized Reidy’s strength in quantitative analysis. “Miles has built and led highly quantitative, analytical finance organizations,” said acting CFO William Crowley. “We have asked Miles to bring to Sears Holdings this rigorous approach to testing and creating value through data-driven decisions.”

Collins has worked in a variety of finance positions in his 18-year career at GE, most recently as the senior vice president of planning and analysis for the company’s NBC Universal division.

“We have asked him to continue to build a rigorous and analytic finance function,” said Bruce Johnson, interim CEO and president. “With our new operating model, we need to ensure that our business unit leaders have the detailed information and finance support to drive effective decision-making.”

Commenting on Reidy’s departure, Johnson added, “We appreciate and respect Miles’ decision to focus on his family. We wish him and his family well. We will particularly miss Miles’ thoughtful advice and passion for analytic clarity.”

Interestingly, when Monaghan left Sears, the company said he was returning to Florida where his family resides.

Sears, controlled by hedge fund honcho Edward Lampert, has been suffering from declining same-store sales at its Sears and Kmart stores. The company’s stock is trading around $70, down from its all-time high of about $193 less than two years ago. Last month, Fitch Ratings downgraded the ratings associated with certain Sears debt obligations.