"Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."
Very few people have confused Edward Lampert, chairman of Sears Holdings, with the master merchants of retail. That said, Mr. Lampert is preparing to lead the company following the surprise announcement that current CEO Louis D'Ambrosio is stepping down next month to attend to "family health matters."
So much for never getting fooled again.
Mr. D'Ambrosio, a former tech executive with no previous retailing experience, was named to run Sears Holdings in February 2011 after three years operating under an interim CEO. His hiring was greeted with disbelief in many quarters. Thomas Stemberg, a former CEO at Staples, told The Wall Street Journal at the time, "The whole notion of hiring a high-tech executive to run a retail company is absurd.''
After nearly two years on the job, it is clear is that Mr. D'Ambrosio's presence failed to improve same-store performance. He did manage, however, to further cut costs and sell off assets to boost Sears Holdings' liquidity.
Mr. Lampert said of the decision for him to take over as CEO, "It is important that there is continuity of leadership during this important period of transformation and improvement at Sears Holdings. I have agreed to assume these additional responsibilities in order to continue the company's recovery and sustain the momentum we are experiencing, as well as further the development of the management team under the distributed leadership model, which provides our business unit leaders with greater control, authority and autonomy."
How much more or less optimistic are you that Sears Holdings will begin to deliver positive same-store sales results under Edward Lampert as CEO?