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As Kmart lumbers toward its emergence from bankruptcy, expected to happen by the end of the month, numerous piece of information are emerging about its past dealings.

Among the more interesting developments:

  • The Detroit Free Press reports that Kmart approach French retailing giant Carrefour in the late 1990s about an alliance between the two companies, but was rebuffed because Carrefour didn’t see the US as fitting into its plans.

    Kmart reportedly wanted Carrefour to take over the food side of its supercenter business.

  • Former Kmart CEO Floyd Hall told the Free Press that Kmart wanted to form a partnership with a food retailer or wholesaler, but settled for hiring Fleming to be its grocery supplier -- but did not hire Fleming to manage its grocery operation.

    The deal soured as Kmart accused Fleming of not being efficient enough in supplying its stores. The agreement was canceled, and Fleming declared bankruptcy last week.

  • Finally, Hall told the paper that when he retired in 2000, he told Kmart’s board that hiring Charles Conaway to replace him “was the worst decision I'd ever seen in my career” and that he told the board, “You've just kissed the company good-bye.”

    Hall said that he holds the board completely responsible for Kmart’s bankruptcy problems.

    It was on Conaway’s watch that Kmart filed for bankruptcy protection, and during which alleged management malfeasance took place that is now being investigated by regulatory authorities.

KC's View:
Sounds like Conaway may not be calling Hall as a character witness when his case finally goes to trial.

And it sounds like members of Kmart’s old board were so busy counting their fees that they forgot to pay attention to the leadership deficit that apparently was taking place at the top of the company.