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Aylwin Lewis, the president and chief multi-branding and operating officer for restaurant company Yum Brands, has been named the new president/CEO of Kmart Holding Co.

He replaces Julian Day, who became the company’s CEO when it was in bankruptcy. Day plans to stay on Kmart’s board.

In an interview with the New York Times, Lewis said, "I would not have left the situation I was in at Yum Brands to come to a company that was not interested in being a growth company, in winning in the marketplace, and operating great stores to serve unmet consumer needs. I'm here to make the Kmart brand a super retailing brand in the United States."
KC's View:
We are reminded of an old joke…

    When Bill Gates died, he went up to Heaven, where Saint Peter showed him to his home - a beautiful 20-room house, with grounds and a tennis court that thrilled the deceased founder of Microsoft.

    But one day, when Gates was enjoying one of Heaven's many fine parks, he ran into a man dressed in a fine tailored suit. "That is a nice suit, my friend," said Gates. "Where did you get it?"

    "Actually," the man replied, "I was given a hundred of these when I got here. I've been treated really well. I got a mansion on a hill overlooking a beautiful hill, with a huge five-hundred-acre estate, a golf course, and three Rolls Royces."

    "Were you a Pope, or a doctor healing the sick?" asked Gates. "No," said his new friend, "Actually, I was the captain of the Titanic."

    Hearing this made Gates so angry that he immediately stalked off to find St. Peter. Cornering Peter, he told him about the man he had just met, saying, "How could you give me a paltry new house, while you're showering new cars, a mansion, and fine suits on the Captain of the Titanic? I invented the Windows operating system! Why does he deserve better?"

    St. Peter replied, "Ah, but the Titanic only crashed once."


Kmart should be as lucky as the Titanic. But the fact is that the company probably, in the long run, will be more successful selling off real estate than actual merchandise…unless, of course, Lewis is able to create the kind of cultural change that results in compelling shopping experiences for consumers.

And he might have better luck raising the Titanic.