Chasing the Customer… Sears – Down the Up Escalator 2

Sears – Down the Up Escalator seems an appropriate metaphor. For almost a century Sears trajectory was always upward. Today was better than yesterday! Tomorrow will be better than today! Next year will be better than this year! If you worked at Sears – that’s the way it always , with unwavering certainty, worked – until around 1969.

Sears management and employees were so anchored to the culture and business model of the past that no one in the organization could plot a course or muster a crew to steer the ship toward the future. [One Sears executive of the era purportedly quipped as sales began to slump something like, “Turning Sears around is something like trying to turn the battleship Missouri around in the Chicago River.”]


The current, Eddie Lambert,  state is that in the last seven years, Sears stock price is down 78 %. During the last 31 quarters, Sears has attained positive revenue growth only once (Compare to  Dave Dillon’s (Kroger) 40 consecutive quarters of growth.)  Crain’s Chicago is running an interesting article this week that is worth a read.  Click to read.

A lot of the mistakes that Sears made then and continues to make now are being made by others today. The legacy newspaper industry, brick and mortar retailers, TV and Radio, to name a few, are all at risk. 18th century statesman, Edmund Burke wrote, ” Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

In the next installments, I will visit why the intransigence of the management and employees to adjust to the changing consumer, the changing competition and the changing business technology of modern commerce – sent Sears – Down the Up Escalator.

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