Is Sears Holdings making real progress in transforming itself?
Once again Sears’ CEO Edward Lampert has spoken and the message is pretty much the same. The company is in the process of transforming into a new type of retail entity that will achieve success in the future. Where others see an ongoing deconstruction of once proud retailers (Kmart and Sears), Mr. Lampert sees something else. What that is may not be clear to retail industry experts and pundits, but Mr. Lampert doesn’t much care what others think.
Speaking at the company’s annual shareholders meeting, Mr. Lampert said, "Looking back at what used to be doesn’t give us a chance to transform."
The past probably isn’t where Mr. Lampert wants Sears stakeholders to have their focus considering the company has had 38 straight quarters of declining sales. For those who do, he pointed to Apple and General Dynamics as companies that went through rough periods before achieving successful transformations.
One thing is clear — Sears Holdings’ future will mean fewer stores. "You don’t need 2,000 stores to be competitive in the U.S.," he said via The Wall Street Journal. Sears Holdings currently operates 1,152 Kmart stores and 778 Sears stores.
As in the past, Mr. Lampert spoke about pursuing a goal of becoming a fully integrated multichannel retailer, primarily through the company’s Shop Your Way rewards program. Members of the program are the biggest driver of sales for the company and its greatest focus.
Part of that attention has included an expansion of Sears’ online marketplace. Over the past two years, Sears has increased available products from 40 million items to about 120 million today. "We’ve been very focused on serving members, providing products they want and very focused on price," Mr. Lampert was quoted as saying by the Chicago Tribune.
- Sears chief: Store closings will continue, make company stronger – Chicago Tribune
- Sears to Close More Stores – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Edward Lampert Says Sears Must Trim Apparel – WWD (sub. required)
Will closing stores make Sears and Kmart stronger retailers? Is integration of digital with brick and mortar environments the key to the chains’ success going forward?