Is Sears’ Lacy The Next To Go?

Oct 22, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Edward Lampert cannot be happy with the return on his investment in Sears.

Sure, the retail chain and its chief executive, Alan Lacy, has helped Mr. Lampert reap a solid return on his other retail investment, Kmart, by paying millions for its stores. But Sears’ continuing poor performance and staggering stock price are beginning to make the chain look like the corporate equivalent of the old woman on the television commercial shouting, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

In its most recent bad news, Sears said it lost $61 million for the quarter ending October 2. Company revenues were down 15 percent and its stock price has fallen 31 percent from a year ago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Despite the dismal performance and a caution not to expect the fourth quarter to be that great either, Mr. Lacy told analysts he’s optimistic about the retailer’s prospects because of steps the company has taken to tailor product assortments to local demographics and the influx of new talent that has joined its corporate ranks.

Others, however, do not share Mr. Lacy’s outlook.

Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates told the Sun-Times, “The company is a train wreck.”

Moderator’s Comments: Is Alan Lacy the right person to lead Sears at this juncture?

Will we soon experience déjà vu all over again? Will Sears follow Kmart’s lead and hire a branding expert to run the company?

Under Alan Lacy, Sears has reduced its overhead by slashing it workforce and has sold off assets. such as its credit card business.

Howard Davidovitz said, “Sears chose a financial man [Lacy is a former chief financial officer] who cut costs and who moved the decks around on the Titanic.”

George Anderson – Moderator

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