Sears CEO Explains Store Closings

Sears-ClosingOur local Ithaca, NY, Sears store closed last month-one of more than 200 in 2014. Sears Holdings Co. CEO Eddie Lampert explained the decision in a post on the company's website. Part of his message is about keeping underperforming stores open as long as possible:

"I am proud of the work associates contribute to serve our members in all of our stores and believe that the decision to keep some of our worst performing stores open in the past, despite their low or negative levels of profit, was the right one because we kept people employed and served our members. We have experimented with different formats, different levels of investment and different processes to bring about a better result. Given changing circumstances, both in the retail industry and in our company, we can no longer afford, nor justify keeping these stores open."

In a second blog post a day earlier, Lampert writes, "Is something a 'failure' if other successes come from it?" He responds to a Crain's Chicago Business article that criticized Sears for being too merchandise-driven when it needs to evolve as a market-driven company. 

"Success takes both hard work and a willingness to keep what works and adjust what doesn't based upon what our members want. This is what we and our competitors needed to do back in 1988. It's what so many people across our company are doing today, and it's how we are going to bring Sears and Kmart forward into tomorrow."

If nothing else, Lambert's determination shows in the number of his blog posts. Between 2005 and 2013, he wrote no more than three posts per year. In 2014, he's blogging between two and nine times a month.  

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Discussion Starters: 

  • How does Lambert use principles of persuasion discussed in Chapter 7 in his "Moving Forward" post about the store closings? 
  • Compare Lambert's early posts on the blog (2005 and 2006) with his most recent. What differences do you notice, and how can you account for them?