Updated! Two top Sears Holdings executives whose functions are key to the retailer’s core multichannel shopping strategy were included in a corporate downsizing earlier this month.
The pair — online president Stephan Zoll, and Eric Jaffe, senior VP/COO of Shop Your Way — were victims of an aggressive cost-cutting plan designed to save the struggling business nearly $1.3 billion annually.
The latest round of reductions, announced June 13, included the elimination of 400 headquarters positions and a thinning of Sears’ senior management ranks, which also swept up apparel president David Pastrana Benito.
Zoll, a former Booz Allen Hamilton consultant, joined Sears one year ago from eBay, where he was a VP and managing director.
Jaffe, a former analyst at chairman Eddie Lampert’s ESL Investments hedge fund, led Sears’ Shop Your Way loyalty program for the past four-and-a-half years.
The duties of both posts are central to Lampert’s strategic vision of a “retail-light” shopping platform that emphasizes mobile, online and Shop Your Way membership.
A spokesman for Sears Holdings, Chris Brathwaite, told TWICE that the downsizing in no way diminishes the company’s focus on its Shop Your Way and multichannel initiatives, and that Zoll’s and Jaffe’s duties have been assumed by others.
Indeed, the company’s “strategic restructuring program,” first announced in February, calls for a consolidation of corporate and support functions at Sears and Kmart. Other elements of the plan include monetizing real estate, private-label brands and home and auto services, and streamlining back-office operations like pricing, sourcing, supply chain and inventory management.
Sears also plans to shutter another 20 stores in addition to the 245 locations that were already targeted this year, Business Insider reported today, but also opened a new appliance and mattress specialty store in Texas.
Separately, Sears Canada, which was spun off as a stand-alone business in 2012, has filed for the north-of-the-border equivalent of bankruptcy protection.
The cash-strapped chain said it plans to close more than a quarter of its 200 stores, pink-slip 2,900 of its 17,000 employees, and tap 450 million dollars Canadian in debtor-in-possession financing to keep the company afloat as it restructures and allows recent store, merchandise and online upgrades to take hold.
The retailer said it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy protection later this year.
Sears Holdings still controls 12 percent of the company and Lampert, through ESL and his personal holdings, owns about 45 percent of its shares.