Hedge fund manager Edward Lampert announced Thursday he intends to sell off some 1,200 Sears stores in an effort to raise $770 million in cash. Some are looking at this as the start of a breakup and a reversal on the past seven years spent trying to integrate Kmart and pull the company out of the doldrums. Sears plans to sell off 11 full line stores to General Growth Properties, 1,061 hometown stores, 116 outlet stores and 96 hardware stores.
The 126 year old brand has been losing market share to Wal-Mart, Macy’s and Home Depot for many years as it struggled to find an identity in a competitive market and seemed to confuse consumers with its marketing messages. But Sears still has some very strong brands like Craftsman, so it’s not impossible to think with a cash infusion and some improved merchandising and marketing, they can turn it around. Among our customers who we provide Sears POS reporting for, they are in some cases realizing strong sales, in particular hardware and apparel basics.
So what are your thoughts? Beginning of the end or can Sears turn it around?