The following is reposted with permission from Sears Holdings’ SHC Speaks blog page.
The past year will be remembered as one of the most challenging periods for brick-and-mortar retailers – and our company was one of the many affected by these headwinds. Our board, management team and the tens of thousands of associates working at Sears Holdings understand that performance matters, and we remain committed to powering through these challenges.
However, we need the support of our members, vendors, lenders and the communities we serve to succeed. While we are not asking to be spared from informed opinions about our business performance, for far too long, many commentators have rushed to conclusions about the future of our company. Not only have these predictions been off the mark and based on incomplete and selective information or biased sources, but they have also been harmful. We have spent a lot of time educating many external stakeholders – we need each other for success – and while it hasn’t been easy, we are still here and fighting hard.
We remain a proud business with a large number of hard-working associates all over the country working toward the success of our company. While the retail environment is as difficult as it has ever been, it is important to remember that Sears and Kmart have been evolving to meet the needs of shoppers for over a century. And, during this time, we have given birth to many companies and supported many of our vendors through difficult periods and their own challenges.
So how are we going to adapt now?
We are making transformational changes to our business to remain competitive over the long term. Our Shop Your Way membership platform provides unique shopping experiences through rewards, services and partnership benefits. We continue to concentrate our investments on developing the various pillars of Shop Your Way and we are seeing the results:
*we launched the Shop Your Way 5-3-2-1 credit card this past November, which provides an industry-leading value proposition in categories that matter to the everyday shopping needs of our members;
*we have tens of millions of active members and overall membership continues to grow;
*the number of Shop Your Way VIP members increased by nearly 50 percent since the beginning of the year compared to the same period last year; and
*Best Member spending and orders are increasing as members are becoming more aware and engaged.
At the same time, we continue to do what is necessary to improve the near-term performance of our business. We have achieved significant progress toward our restructuring program since the beginning of the year, with $700 million in cost savings actioned. However, we are determined to work even harder to remain a competitive retailer in a challenging environment. As part of that, we recently announced further actions to target an additional $250 million in cost savings this year, bringing our total target for 2017 to at least $1.25 billion.
People have often asked me why I am still committed to the company and why I continue to invest a significant amount of my own money in its “transformation.” The answer is that I firmly believe we will succeed in becoming a company that helps our members manage and improve their lives. I don’t know why people would root against a company that impacts so many people, but I can tell you that your board of directors and your management team are doing everything in our power for us to succeed – we are fighting like hell!
Sears and Kmart continue to be two of the country’s most iconic retailers, and make no mistake, they are still very important to American consumers. We continue to have a large footprint through our stores – many in leading locations. Shop Your Way has tens of millions of members actively engaging with us both online and in-store. We are also home to an industry-leading home services business. All of these unique assets – whether inherited, acquired or built – are our strengths. They provide us with the necessary foundation to create value as we sharpen our focus on our best stores, best categories and best members.
I thank all of our associates, members, stockholders and business partners for their support and commitment to our company; we remain firmly focused on successfully executing our strategy and look forward to reporting progress.
Eddie Lampert is chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Corp.