Careers at Sears
Sears Holdings operates two high-profile retail chains, Sears and Kmart, with a view to providing an extensive range of products to customers across the US at reasonable prices.
Sears Holdings organises its operations into two reportable business segments:
- Kmart, comprising the operation of the Company’s chain of Kmart discount stores and super centres across 49 US States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, through which it sells products across numerous merchandise categories; and
- Sears Domestic, which comprises the Company’s operation of Sears-branded full-line stores and specialty stores, as well as its commercial sales and home services activities, including product repair services.
Sears Holdings has its roots in two major US retail chains, Kmart and Sears. In 2004 Kmart Holdings Corporation acquired Sears, Roebuck and Company, and subsequently changed its name to Sears Holdings.
Both Sears and Kmart have histories dating back more than 100 years, with Sebastian Spering Kresge opening the first of Kmart predecessor stores in 1899 and Richard Sears launching the Sears retail business in 1886. Throughout the 20th Century both chains grew significantly, from small local retail operations to high-profile national retail chains. Today, the two retail chains have a presence across all 50 US states, as well as in territories such as Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Sears Holdings is among the largest retailers in the US, placing 111th in the Fortune 500 list. The Company trades a portion of its shares on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol SHLD, and has a current market capitalisation of $1.22 billion.
Business model of Sears
Sears Holdings operates a variety of retail outlets that directly serve the general consumer market. According to a recent survey, the typical customer of the Company’s chain of Kmart discount stores is a married woman over the age of 45, from a low-income household. The Company’s Kmart stores are located principally in urban or on the edge of urban locations, with a view to serving communities.
The Company’s Sears chain of department stores are typically frequented by older female consumers, generally 55 and over. It has recently had difficulty attracting and retaining younger customers, with customers aged 18-34 and 35-54 declining significantly. In addition to serving consumers directly, Sears also operates a commercial unit that sells merchandise in bulk to businesses.
Sears Holdings serves customers across the US, retaining a presence across all 50 states. International customers are also able to utilize the Company’s online Sears sales channel, which ships merchandise to 100 countries worldwide.
Sears Holdings provides value to its customers in the following ways:
- Its low prices and discount deals, with the Company, particularly its Kmart chain, offering merchandise to customers at low prices, and providing regular discount deals and rewards schemes for further savings;
- Its expansive portfolio of products, with the Company’s Sears and Kmart chains stocking a broad range of products, spanning apparel, electronics, shoes, food and produce, toys, tools, home furnishings, and auto parts, among others;
- Its domestic reach, with the Company operating an extensive network of retail outlets across its Sears and Kmart chains, which have a presence across 50 and 49 US states respectively, serving local communities across the country; and
- Its digital retail channels, with the Company operating online retail channels through its Sears and Kmart websites, as well as providing mobile apps, which include options for home delivery and in-store pickups.
Sears Holdings operates a website at www.searsholdings.com, through which it provides information on its various services and locations. It also operates separate websites for its flagship Kmart and Sears-branded retail chains at www.kmart.com and www.sears.com respectively. These websites also serve as online retail channels, through which customers are able to browse products, make purchases and arrange deliveries. The Company’s online channels are supported by mobile apps that are available for iOS and Android devices.
The majority of Sears Holdings’s sales are made through its network of physical retail outlets. This includes Kmart’s 934 discount stores and seven super centres across 49 US States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as its network of 705 Sears-branded stores across 50 US States, and Puerto Rico. The Company employs sales and service personnel across its stores that sell directly to customers.
Sears Holdings operates a separate division for its Sear commercial sales, operating a website at www.searscommercial.com. Commercial orders are placed primarily through the Company’s telephone sales staff.
The majority of Sears Holdings’s products are available to customers on a self-service basis through its various digital sales channels. These online and mobile channels allow customers to make purchases, schedule deliveries and pickups, and manage account details without interacting with members of the Company’s sales and service staff.
The Company’s retail chains also operate on a largely self-service basis, with customers able to browse and select items autonomously, with sales staff only necessary for completing transactions. Sears and Kmart staff, however, are available across the store networks to provide personal care to customers, providing advice on products and responding to questions.
Sears Holdings provides online support resources to its customers in the form of guides and FAQs relating to shipping, returns and order management through its Sears and Kmart websites. The Company also has dedicated customer support teams that can be contacted directly over the phone or via online chat services.
Additionally, both Kmart and Sears operate a number of social media accounts – including with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Snapchat – through which they are able to interact with customers directly.
Sears Holdings operates as an integrated retailer.
Its activities are organized into two reportable operating segments: Kmart, through which it operates a network of Kmart-branded discount stores across the US, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands; and Sears Domestic, which operates a network of full-line stores and specialty stores across the US and Puerto Rico, and provides commercial sales and home service solutions.
Both the Company’s Kmart and Sears chain offer a broad range of merchandise spanning numerous product categories, including seasonal merchandise, toys, lawn and garden equipment, food and consumables, apparel, household appliances, consumer electronics, and tools.
Sears Holdings works in conjunction with a number of companies and organisations across its two operating segments. These partners include:
- Supplier Partners, comprising merchandise suppliers that provide products and services for resale across the Company’s Kmart and Sears outlets, as well as non-merchandise suppliers that provide goods and services for use within the Company’s stores;
- Marketing and Branding Partners, comprising various companies and businesses that collaborate with the Company in co-marketing projects or provide exclusive products lines to the Company’s retail outlets;
- Rewards Scheme Partners, comprising various consumer-focused companies that contribute products, deals, and offers as part of the Company’s Kmart and Sears rewards scheme programs; and
- Social and Community Partners, comprising various non-profits and charitable organisations, with which the Company collaborates on social and community projects.
Sears Holdings has recently launched a partnership with ride-sharing service Uber as part of its rewards scheme, which will see Sears customers receive loyalty points for every trip made via the platform. The Company also has a number of service partners in relation to its ecommerce activities, including ChannelSale and Ecomdash.
Sears Holdings’s key resources are its products and supply chain, its online retail platforms, its IT and communications infrastructure, its network of physical retail stores, its distribution and logistics infrastructure, its partnerships, and its personnel.
Sears Holdings owns and leases numerous properties across the US. This includes more than 1,600 retail outlets, the majority of which are leased, and 28 domestic supply chain distribution centres, of which nine are owned and 19 are leased. The Company also has 416 domestic store warehouses, customer call centres and service facilities, the majority of which are leased.
Searches of records published by the US Patent and Trademark Office identified numerous patent applications filed in the name of the Company’s subsidiary Sears Brands, including applications entitled ‘Merchandise reservation system, apparatus, and media’, ‘Display screen or portion thereof with an icon’ and ‘Checkout and/or ordering systems and methods’.
Sears Holdings incurs costs in relation to the procurement of merchandise and management of its supply chain, the development of its online and mobile platforms, the maintenance of its IT and communications infrastructure, the implementation of marketing and advertising campaigns, the operation of its physical sales and distribution infrastructure, the management of its partnerships, and the retention of its personnel.
In 2015 Sears Holdings accrued cost of sales, buying, and occupancy – which includes costs associated with the acquisition of merchandise and supplies – in the amount of $19.34 billion. Its selling and administrative expenses – including the payment of salaries and benefits to the Company’s workforce of 178,000 employees, as well as advertising and marketing costs – totalled 6.86 billion.
Sears Holdings generates revenue primarily through the sale of merchandise through its Sears and Kmart-branded retail chains, both through physical and digital channels. The Company also derives a portion of its revenue through bulk commercial sales and certain home services, provided through its Sears Domestic segment.
In 2015 Sears Holdings generated an annual revenue of $25.15 billion, down on the $31.20 billion recorded by the Company in 2014. The Company attributed this decline in revenue largely to actions taken during 2014 to streamline its operations and increase its focus on members. The majority of the Company’s annual revenue was generated by its Sears Domestic segment, which accounted for $14.96 billion of the Company’s total revenue.
info: Edward (“Lampert”) has served as Chairman at Sears Holdings since 2013, and has been its Chief Executive Officer since 2013. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Seritage Growth Properties since 2015. Lampert has held a number of roles within the Sears Holdings group of companies, including a spell as Chairman of the Board at Kmart Holding Corporation. Lampert began his career in 1984, when he joined Goldman Sachs, working primarily in the Company’s Risk Arbitrage Department. He left the Company in 1988 and formed his own investment company, ESL Investments, of which he continues to serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
info: Robert (“Schriesheim”) has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer at Sears Holdings since joining the Company in 2013. He also serves as a director of Skyworks Solutions, Houlihan Lokey, and NII Holdings. Schriesheim began his career in 1987, when he joined Brooke group. He served in several roles at the company, before moving to AC Nielsen in 1993. From 1996 to 1997 he served briefly as Vice president of Corporate Development at Ameritech, followed by a short period as President and Chief Executive Officer at SBC Equity Partners. This was followed by a three-year spell at Global Telesystems as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, following which he served as a venture partner at ARCH Development Partners. Prior to joining Sears Holdings, Schriesheim worked at Hewitt Associates as Chief Financial officer.
info: Jeffrey (“Balagna”) has served as Executive Vice President of Services at Sears Holdings since 2015, having served previously as the Company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Balagna began his career at General Electric in 1997, holding senior roles within the company’s Power Conversion and Healthcare departments. From 2001 to 2004 he served as Chief Information Officer at Medtronic, and in 2005 joined hospitality group Carlson, where he held a number of roles over a seven-year period, including Chief Executive Officer of Carlson Marketing and Chief Information Officer of Carlson Companies. Prior to joining Sears Holdings, Balagna served as Senior Vice President and Chief Information officer at Eli Lilly.
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