Retailing: New Boss at Sears

Two weeks ago in Los Angeles, Austin Thomas Cushman, 60, vice president in charge of the West Coast operations of Sears, Roebuck & Co., got a career-capping phone call from Sears Chairman Charles H. Kellstadt. Kellstadt, who four months ago reached Sears's customary retirement age of 65, wanted to know whether Cushman would like to replace him in his $158,000-a-year job. It was quite a prospect: Sears, the giant Chicago-based retailing empire, counts one U.S. family in three among its customers. Last year it racked up sales of $4.5 billion on 140,000 items from mink coats to castration bands...

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