On Jan. 20 Monica Woo, the chief marketing officer of Sears Holding Corp.'s namesake stores, quietly left the embattled retailer after five months on the job. As Reuters reported, Woo, who graduated from Mills College in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in journalism, left Sears to become global marketing chief of Mozido, a five-year-old financial services firm based in Dallas, Texas.
She was the latest executive to depart Sears since the beginning of the year. Three senior managers, including Woo, have left the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based department store chain, while three outside executives have come on board in the last three months. The turnover is emblematic of management under Edward Lampert, the hedge fund operator who became the company's chairman in 2005.
"There has been a lot of turnover year after year and it's been a revolving door at a lot of levels," said Paul Swinand, a stock analyst at Morningstar who covers the retail industry. "For many of these incoming executives it's been said that there are often management conflicts with the company's board and some of the investors involved. Seasoned retail executives typically want to be able to use their experience to make an impact. If they feel that their contributions aren't being appreciated they are going to look elsewhere."
Dev Mukherjee, who joined Sears as president of its home appliances business in November 2010, left earlier this month. John Goodman, who rejoined Sears as executive vice president of its apparel and home unit in November 2009 departed in January. Goodman had been chief apparel and home officer of Sears' Kmart division from January 2004 to May 2005. He left for the first time to join Levi Strauss' Dockers division as its president.
Mukherjee, Goodman and Woo were unavailable to comment.
The three recent executive hires at Sears are seasoned managers with at least 18 years experience in their respective fields. In late March, Steve Haber, 51, left Sony as executive vice president of its consumer product group to lead Sears' home appliance business. In the same week David Lukes, 42, left Mall Properties as the company's chief executive to lead Sears' real estate development unit.
In early January, Ron Boire, 50, left Brookstone as the company's chief executive to take over as Sears' chief merchandising officer. Boire told FINS at the time that his incentive for doing so was the allure of an iconic turnaround.
The latest executive hires are "a losing battle" for Sears, said one person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. "They pay these people big sums only to see them leave. It is clear that the company is unable to keep good talent," that person said.
Louis D'Ambrosio, Sears Holding's chief executive earned total compensation of $9.9 million in fiscal year 2011, according to a company proxy statement. That included $8 million of restricted stock. Robert Schriesheim, the company's chief financial officer earned $5.3 million including almost $4 million in restricted shares, while Boire earned $2.3 million, with all but $56,361 of that in restricted stock awards.
"Not only are we able to retain great talent as evidenced by the leaders currently working to transform our company, but we've been able to attract great talent," said Chris Brathwaite, a company spokesperson. "In the last 12 months alone, we've added a number of executives, several of them former CEOs of other companies."
Sears is searching for Woo's replacement and is evaluating internal and external candidates, said Brathwaite. Imran Jooma, Sears Holdings' senior vice president of marketing, online and financial services, is currently leading marketing operations for the company's Sears and Kmart divisions, said Brathwaite.
Write to Damian.Ghigliotty at Damian.Ghigliotty@dowjones.com