retail news in context, analysis with attitude

CNBC reports that in a speech yesterday to 1,000 employees at Sears headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, former CEO/current chairman Eddie Lampert gave a speech that was meant to serve as a rallying cry.

"We need to show material progress over the next few months to establish to our senior lenders that a reorganization of the company is realistic and to avoid a shutdown and liquidation,” he said.

And, he added, "When Sears and Kmart merged in 2005, I envisioned a company that would be different and relevant for the 21st century. ... These were two, iconic companies that had lost their way … As we all know, we haven't capitalized on this opportunity the way I would have liked … Instead of growth and investment we have faced retrenchment and restructuring.”

Sears filed for bankruptcy on Monday morning, having not turned a profit since 2010. The company reportedly plans to close unprofitable stores and sell another 400 locations as it searches for a key to survival.
KC's View:
Winston Churchill, he ain’t.

The story says that Lampert said it was the second hardest speech he’s ever given (the first being his dad’s eulogy); I’m inclined to believe that. He also said that he’s always held the company’s and employees’ interests as being of paramount importance; I’m not sure I’m buying that. I think that Lampert’s first priority has always been his own interests, though, to be fair, it wasn’t like he has been competent in achieving his goals.

I have to wonder if there was anyone at Sears HQ who was buying anything that Lampert was selling. I remember that earlier in my career, there was a guy, when he walked into a meeting to say that the company had turned the corner and that there would be no more layoffs, that we all knew was lying. We’d all go back to our offices and work on our résumés. It had to be the same at Sears HQ,, except that I hope that these folks have been circulating their résumés for months, if not years.