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CEOs Weigh in on How to Fix a Troubled Company

Many of America’s biggest companies are struggling through some of the most difficult times in their histories—Campbell Soup, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, RadioShack, Target, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods among them. But the most woebegone of all might be Sears.

Chief Executive talked with a handful of people—CEOs, academics and consultants—about what they would do to fix these companies, but they were hard-pressed to come up with ways to straighten out the mightily struggling retailer that owns both the Sears and Kmart chains.

“Sears’ emphasis on its “Shop Your Way” loyalty program is only “doubling down on a fatally flawed program.”

Hedge-fund manager and Sears CEO Edward Lampert has been running the company into the ground for a long time with few indications of a turnaround. Revenues are falling and same-store sales remain weak as Sears has been trying to streamline its operations by shedding businesses and closing locations while moving to a model focused on members rather than stores.

Lampert’s latest merchandising strategy is to shift focus from selling TV sets and other things individually and instead pursue a “connected living” approach for meeting all the needs of the customer, by selling appliances, fitness equipment, electronics and auto services. He also aims to overhaul Sears’ approach to apparel sales yet again after another failure in penetrating this soft goods market.

Kurt Jetta, CEO of the TABS consumer metrics company, believes that Sears’ emphasis on its “Shop Your Way” loyalty program—which accounted for 74 percent of sales during the fiscal first quarter, up from 68 percent a year earlier—is only “doubling down on a fatally flawed program.”

About Dale Buss

Dale Buss
Dale Buss is a long-time contributor to Chief Executive, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and other top-flight business publications. He lives in Michigan.