CLEVELAND — John G. Breen retired as chairman of The Sherwin-Williams Co., concluding a 22-year tenure at the helm of the biggest U.S.-based coatings-manufacturing concern. The company’s board of directors elected Christopher M. Connor to succeed Breen as chairman. Connor was named CEO in October 1999, and retains that title. The board expressed its gratitude and appreciation to Breen for many years of “distinguished, invaluable and professional services to the company.”

Breen was named CEO in 1979 and presided over 22 consecutive years of earnings improvement. During that time, the market value of the company’s common stock multiplied 41 times, from $108 million to $4.4 billion. Breen remains a member of the company’s board of directors, and the company’s Cleveland Technical Center will be renamed the John G. Breen Technology Center in his honor.

Other recent moves include the following. •

  • Sherwin-Williams said it will team up with Disney Enterprises Inc. and Plaid Enterprises Inc. to launch “Disney Color,” a new home-decorating collection of paint, stencils and decorative stamps scheduled to enter the retail marketplace later this summer. •
  • Sherwin-Williams plans to expand its Martha Stewart paint program with new products, merchandising and advertising, in addition to expansion into new channels of distribution. But the company said it will not extend a license agreement with Ralph Lauren to produce paint products bearing Lauren trademarks. The agreement is scheduled to end Dec. 31 of this year. Sales of Lauren-trademark products represent less than 1% of Sherwin-Williams’ total sales, the company said. •
  • Sherwin-Williams’ Martin Senour and Pratt & Lambert paint businesses have launched “virtual” decorating capabilities for visitors to the and Web sites. The sites allow visitors to preview paint colors and virtually “paint” rooms.