Eddie Lampert announced that Sears will continue to close brick-and-mortar stores at an accelerated rate. While this is the right thing to do, he put it into the context of a company “reinvention” that any Sears-watcher should be skeptical about. Here’s my point of view, as expressed in a recent RetailWire panel discussion:
Mr. Lampert has had ten years to prove the validity of his vision. And that vision has changed every time the “last strategy” failed to achieve gains in profitability and market share. Meanwhile, a collapsing sales base in outmoded stores makes it very seriously to accept the latest messaging — whatever it is.
The undermining of the Sears and Kmart brands through mismanagement is so thorough that it’s naive to think an “online marketplace” can leverage those same damaged brands effectively. An online version of Sears runs a risk of irrelevance compared to stronger, better-managed competitors like Amazon and walmart.com. It’s the same pathway that led to Sears’s “also-ran” status today.