Critics have often contended that Kmart needs younger blood. It's safe to say the Troy (Mich.) discount chain got a big infusion on May 31 when it named Charles Conaway as its new chairman and CEO.

Still a few days shy of his 40th birthday, the athletic Conaway has the energy to fix Kmart's nagging distribution and store-operation problems, according to board member Thomas Stallkamp. Conaway comes to Kmart from drugstore giant CVS, where he was president and chief operating officer. Conaway's predecessor was Floyd Hall, 61, who led Kmart's turnaround effort by revamping nearly 2,000 stores and introducing successful private-label brands such as Martha Stewart Everyday.

While Kmart's sales and profits have improved, plenty of tough work remains. Conaway, who started work immediately, is already on the case. He'll focus on two big problems that lead to customer disappointment: technology systems and inventory distribution. Good thing he has fresh legs.

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