Richard J. Srednicki, a prominent credit card and marketing executive who has put in two stints at Citicorp, joined Sears, Roebuck and Co. last month.
Mr. Srednicki, who was president and chief executive officer of AT&T Universal Card Services Corp. when Citicorp took it over this year, is running Sears Home Services, a $3 billion business unit separate from the retailer's proprietary credit card operation.
Sears would not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Srednicki's move and said he would not be available to comment.
Mr. Srednicki, 50, had worked for 13 years in various posts at Citibank, the flagship unit of Citicorp, when he was tapped in early 1997 to take the top AT&T credit card job in Jacksonville, Fla. He officially rejoined the bank in April.
During Mr. Srednicki's brief second stint at Citibank, he had no formal title and responsibilities that were "largely strategic," said company spokeswoman Susan Weeks.
At first, he helped fold the $14 billion AT&T portfolio into Citibank's industry-leading $48 billion card unit. He reported to Alvaro de Souza, executive vice president of Citibank's North American consumer bank.
Industry sources said the new job at Citibank may not have been big enough to satisfy Mr. Srednicki. He had once run Citibank's U.S. card operation, and he was in charge of its branch operation in Germany at the time he left for AT&T.
An "undefined role would not be that comfortable for someone who had been in a CEO position," said A. Ray Einsel, a card industry veteran who was chairman of Citibank Arizona from 1986 to 1992.
He is now a principal at Grant Cooper & Associates, an executive recruiting firm in St. Louis.
Michael Auriemma, president of Auriemma Consulting Group Inc., Westbury, N.Y., said he suspected "the chemistry wasn't right" for Mr. Srednicki at Citibank. "He left Citibank before, and he didn't want to go back there again."
Mr. Srednicki was credited with reenergizing and restoring luster to an AT&T card operation that had turned sluggish after a glitzy start in the early 1990s. In an interview with American Banker last fall, he said AT&T Corp.'s decision to sell the unit caught him by surprise but strengthened his resolve to solidify profitability.
In his new job at Sears, where he began June 24, Mr. Srednicki is responsible for raising the profile of a unit that offers product repairs, service contracts, and home improvement services.
"Two of the primary pieces of building that business will be brand management and the operations side," said Sears spokeswoman Paula Davis. "We want more people to come to Sears for home services."
The unit, which markets services and products under the Sears HomeCentral brand, has 15 million customers. It was formerly headed by Jane J. Thompson, 46, who was named president of a new business group, Sears Direct. Ms. Thompson was president of Sears Credit from 1993 to 1996.
Observers said Mr. Srednicki's experience in brand marketing, both at Citibank and early in his career in product management at Colgate Palmolive Co., will be an asset at Sears.