Friday, December 05, 2014

12282: Sears Holdings Not Holding Up.

The New York Post reported Sears Holdings—which owns Sears and Kmart—continues its death spiral, losing $548 million and planning to close 235 stores. Sears Holdings Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert admitted, “Our stores are often in the wrong place and are often too large for our needs.” Um, whose fault is that? Meanwhile, the brand band plays on with inane advertising that clearly is not moving inventory. The latest Joe Boxer commercial from White advertising agency FCB is exclusively sexist—were no pregnant minority women available? Why doesn’t Lampert realize his White ad agency is in the wrong place and too large for the needs of dying dinosaur retail brands?

Sears posts $548 million loss, plans to close 235 stores

By James Covert

Sears Holdings is racking up big numbers — when it comes to losses, store closings and receding business, that is.

The cash-strapped owner of Sears and Kmart said it is now aiming to close a total of 235 stores this year, up from an earlier target of 130, as it scrambles to stem a growing cash bleed.

“Our stores are often in the wrong place and are often too large for our needs,” Eddie Lampert, the company’s chairman and CEO, said on a Thursday conference call.

Even as Sears reported a third-quarter loss that widened to $548 million, the hedge-fund billionaire reiterated a plan he disclosed last month to sell as many as 300 stores to a real estate investment trust, or REIT.

The idea is for Sears to continue to operate those stores while leasing them from the REIT, a financial maneuver meant to prop up Sears’ balance sheet.

Still, Sears’ and Kmart’s brick-and-mortar stores, which currently number more than 1,800, are getting an increasingly diminished role as Lampert invests in the company’s Web site and its Shop Your Way loyalty program.

“We remain intently focused on delivering an unparalleled integrated retail experience for our customers through Shop Your Way,” Lampert said.

Nevertheless, Shop Your Way accounted for 72 percent of third-quarter sales, unchanged from a year ago. Sears’ online sales grew just 9 percent — a weak showing this quarter versus such rivals as Macy’s and Amazon.

“The company seemed to lose momentum in their own key initiatives, which undermines the strategic direction promoted by management,” said Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter.

Sales fell 13 percent to $7.2 billion amid store closures, the spinoff of Sears’ Lands’ End business and the exit of its stake in Sears Canada.

Sears shares lost 4.4 percent to close at $32.75.

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