Chuck Conaway, chief executive of beleaguered supermarket company Kmart, is saying goodbye to an annual remuneration package worth US$1.4m and leaving the company. Chairman James Adamson will succeed him.

Kmart filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 22 January, and Conaway was stripped of his title of chairman several days later. It therefore came as no surprise when it was announced yesterday [Monday] that Conaway was leaving the company altogether.

Conaway had been appointed CEO in May 2000, signing a five-year contract. Analysts are of the opinion that he failed to come up with an adequate turnaround plan. The linchpin of his strategy was going head to head with Wal-Mart on price, which was destined to fail as Wal-Mart's colossal buying power enabled it to simply cut its own prices further in response.

Incoming CEO Adamson has as yet declined to outline his turnaround strategy, saying it would be much later in the year before he would be ready to reveal a merchandising and marketing strategy. However, he hinted at a policy of getting back to basics, saying that cleaner stores and improved product availability were a priority.

Analysts are getting impatient to see the first shoots of recovery, however. Retail consultant Burt Flickinger III, managing director of Reach Marketing, told the New York Times that Kmart will have to regain consumer confidence quickly. "It's going to be a real race against time given the momentum that Wal-Mart, Target […] and other competitors have," he said. "It's the right team, but it's the right team with less and less time for a turnaround".