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President of Sears Holdings Real Estate Unit Stepping Down

After 15-year career with Sears Holdings, Stollenwerck Says He's Ready for a 'New Challenge'
April 26, 2018
Jeff Stollenwerck, who has served as president of Sears Holdings' real estate division since 2012, is stepping down, the company confirmed Thursday.

It’s unclear when he will leave and how many people will remain in the department.

"Jeff Stollenwerck will soon be departing Sears Holdings," the company said in a short statement. "We appreciate his service leading the real estate business unit and wish him well in his future endeavors. Our strong bench of talent for our real estate business unit and among the leadership team will (insure) a smooth transition."

Stollenwerck has held several key positions at Sears Holdings during some of its most challenging store-closing and sales decisions in recent years. He was at the helm when Sears Holdings spun up Seritage, a real estate investment trust, to take title to 235 Sears properties and 31 joint-venture interests in a $2.72 billion deal.

Stollenwerck started his big-box retail real estate career as vice president of real estate for Kmart Corp. from May 2003 to March 2005, according to a Bloomberg profile. After that he became senior vice president of real estate for Sears Holdings until 2008. He was named president of the real estate business unit of Sears Holdings in March 2012. Prior to Sears Holdings, Stollenwerck was vice president of research for ESL Investments, the report said.

Bloomberg also notes that he served as a non-independent director of Sears Canada from 2014 to 2017, and was director of Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp., which the predecessor of Sears Holdings purchased in 1996 and subsequently spun off into a separate public entity in late 2011.

In an emailed statement, Stollenwerck said that he was "ready for a new challenge," but didn’t note what that might be. "I’ve enjoyed my time with SHC and working closely with Eddie and the other leaders," he said, referring to Edward Lampert, chairman and chief executive of Sears Holdings.

Stollenwerck’s announced departure came only days after ESL Investments, Lampert’s hedge fund, said it "would be open to" purchasing what’s left of Sears’ real estate "if requested by the Sears board of directors."

The offer was made as part of ESL’s letter to the board to submit purchase proposals for three business units "if Sears believes it would be helpful," according to the letter. Asked if the board had met regarding the matters, a Sears spokesman said the company was not commenting beyond Monday’s press release announcing receipt of the ESL letter.
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