Eddie Lampert is the worst
Eddie Lampert is no longer the chief executive of Sears Holdings. He is, however, still the company’s chairman and largest single stockholder. He is also, based on comments he has made over the years — including a speech given to 1,000 employees at a company townhall meeting yesterday — either a liar or someone who is so divorced from reality that he is unable to accept that he has single-handedly destroyed the retailer.
According to CNBC, in his pep talk to employees, Mr. Lampert told them that they have a window of a few months to show that Sears is making progress to avoid having lenders force the company to shut down and liquidate.
Mr. Lampert, with no apparent sense of irony or willingness to accept that the company’s state of disrepair lies solely on his shoulders, told a group of people who may shortly find themselves out of jobs and without pensions that it’s up to them to save a company he has destroyed.
His assertion comes after 13 years of systematically giving away the retailer’s few competitive points of difference through the sale of popular, exclusive brands, while steadfastly refusing to invest in the company’s stores or turn management over to leaders who actually understand the business.
In 2011, after three years operating under an interim CEO, Mr. Lampert hired Louis D’Ambrosio, a former tech industry executive with no retail experience, to run Sears Holdings. Two years later, when Mr. D’Ambrosio stepped down after selling off assets to boost the company’s “liquidity,” Mr. Lampert took over as CEO.
At the time, he said, “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.”
Sears, at that point, had not posted a profit for three years, but Mr. Lampert insisted that the business was on the rebound. That same year, he asserted that critics of his strategy just weren’t smart enough to get the ingenious plan he had to remake the company.
By then, most industry experts agreed with the assessment of Mark Cohen, the former chairman and CEO of Sears Canada, who called Mr. Lampert a “ruthless, methodical asset-stripper.”
Mr. Lampert called the speech he gave yesterday the second most difficult he has ever given in his life, following a eulogy for his father.
“There were mistakes along the way, for which I take responsibility,” he said. “Those failures have affected me in many ways far greater than any successes I have had.”
Perhaps, Mr. Lampert is telling the truth, since his reputation is in tatters. Of course, that’s small consolation to the thousands of people with nowhere near his financial resources who have found their lives upended by his actions, along with many more who will be further affected when Sears comes to its final end.
Eddie Lampert is the worst _____. We’ll leave it to others to fill in the blank.
- Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert pleas to employees: We need ‘material progress’ to avoid liquidation – CNBC
- Sears Rocked by CEO News – RetailWire
- Isn’t It Time Eddie Lampert Fired the CEO of Sears? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Eddie Lampert the worst retail industry executive ever, or is there a viable argument in his defense? Do you agree that he was nothing more than a “ruthless, methodical asset-stripper” from the time he created Sears Holdings?