July 14, 2015 / 3:54 PM / in 3 years

UPDATE 1-Sears Holdings taps Gymboree exec to head Sears unit

(Adds details, spokesman comment; updates shares)

July 14 (Reuters) - Sears Holdings Corp has hired a former Levi Strauss & Co executive to head its Sears business as it looks to return to profit through its customer loyalty program.

Joelle Maher, who was named president and chief member officer of the Sears business, will be responsible for aligning the operations of the unit with Sears Holdings’ “Shop Your Way” business strategy, the company said on Tuesday.

Before joining Sears Holdings, Maher was chief operating officer at children’s apparel retailer Gymboree Corp .

Sears Holdings Chief Executive Eddie Lampert is looking to use the Shop Your Way program to squeeze more out of customers as the company shrinks its store base, spinning off some of its stores into a real estate investment trust and entering into sale and leaseback deals with mall operators.

“Sears (Holdings’) goal is to return to profitability and Joelle will be leading the charge on the Sears format side,” spokesman Chris Brathwaite said.

Members of Shop Your Way, which offers points and tailored deals, accounted for 74 percent of the company’s sales in 2014.

Sears Holdings does not disclose its member count under the program, but says the number is in “tens of millions”.

Sales in the company’s Sears business slid 14.5 percent in the quarter ended May 2, accounting for nearly two-thirds of its total revenue.

Sears Holdings shares were down slightly at $23.62 in noon trading on the Nasdaq on Tuesday. (Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru, Editing by Kirti Pandey)

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