Life Goes On

Robert Nardelli’s appointment as the new CEO of the Chrysler Corp. in August got us to thinking about the comings and goings of high-profile retail executives. Nardelli, 59, is the former chairman, president and CEO of The Home Depot.

Here’s an update on the fortunes (and misfortunes) of some of retail’s most influential leaders:

Vanessa Castagna, 57, abruptly left her post as executive chairwoman of the board of Mervyns in February 2007. Since leaving Mervyns, Castagna has kept a low profile. Her plans reportedly include joining the boards of retail and apparel companies, and nonprofits;

Tom Coughlin, 58, former vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, was sentenced in 2006 to 27 months of home detention after pleading guilty to stealing money, merchandise and gift cards from Wal-Mart. He was ordered to serve five years’ probation, and pay a $50,000 fine and about $411,000 in restitution to Wal-Mart and the IRS;

Mickey Drexler, 62, former president and CEO of Gap Inc. was shown the door by the company in 2002. But Drexler ended up having the last laugh, transforming the once-troubled J. Crew, which he joined in 2003 as CEO, into one of retail’s hottest fashion chains;

James W. Keyes, 52, former president and CEO of 7-Eleven, was appointed chairman and CEO of Block-buster, Inc., in July 2007, replacing chairman and CEO John F. Antioco;

Alan Lacy, 54, former vice-chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Corp., joined New York City-based private-equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners in July 2007, as a senior advisor;

Edward Mueller, 60, CEO of Williams-Sonoma Inc. from 2003 to 2006, recently was named chairman of Qwest Communications. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Mueller, a telecommunications veteran whose resume includes a stint as president and CEO of Ameritech;

Paul Pressler, 50, former CEO of Gap Inc., was dumped by the ailing retail chain in January 2007 with a $14 million severance package. He currently serves on the board of directors for Avon Products; and

Richard Thalheimer, 59, founder of Sharper Image, was ousted as CEO by the company in September 2006. His new business,, is devoted to a category Thalheimer knows well: interesting gifts and gadgets.

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