Inside This Issue - News
Troubles mount at Sears as sales fall, loss grows
November 28th, 2011
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Higher markdowns and pricing pressures on appliances squeezed margins at Sears Holdings Corp. during its third quarter.
As a result, the retailer’s net loss for the period, ended on October 29, expanded to $421 million compared with $218 million the year before.
Sales slipped 0.7% at Sears Domestic, 0.9% at its Kmart operations and 7.8% at Sears Canada. Sales have declined every year since 2005, when the company was formed through the merger of Sears and Kmart. Revenue fell 1.2% to $9.57 billion, below analysts’ average anticipation of $9.6 billion.
The company, under hedge fund manager and chairman Edward Lampert and chief executive officer Lou D’Ambrosio, has attempted to buck its disappointing performance with a focus on operating smaller stores, concentrating on e-commerce and licensing its brands. For example, the DieHard brand has been licensed to Dorey International, a manufacturer of flashlights and batteries, enabling the Ohio-based company to sell such items under that name to retailers in the United States and several other markets.
Sears, once America’s largest retail operation, is reportedly also considering an outside licensing agency to help it place its proprietary brand names on products it doesn’t already sell. A request for bids began circulating to potential parties over the summer.
Similarly, Sears is reported to be mulling the sale of such ancillary Kenmore appliance products as vacuums and humidifiers through Costco Wholesale Corp. If carried out, such an arrangement would mark the first time in the 84-year history of the Kenmore brand that a retailer other than Sears or Kmart would carry the icon appliance brand.
Ironically, a recent Consumer Reports study finds that although Sears stores sit near the basement as major appliance retailers the company’s brands themselves are highly rated in both laboratory tests and in reader surveys.