Alan Treadgold, retail expert at PA Consulting, shares insights on iconic US retailer Sears.
The article notes that a bankruptcy filing from one of the most iconic U.S. retailers was bound to be unique. But the series of events that have played out over the last several months have resulted in polarizing perceptions of what the future holds for Sears.
While there are many unique factors which led to Sears' financial demise, it didn't happen in a vacuum. Department store and mall anchor peers like J.C. Penney, Kohl's and Macy's have all struggled to reinvent their market position over the last few years. And some, including Bon-Ton and Toys R Us, have been left with no other option but to liquidate.
However, the Sears bankruptcy stands out as a cautionary tale for other mass merchandisers.
Alan says: "Sears is the poster child for the problems of being a middle mass market retailer.”
He adds: "It's the problem they've had for at least the last 15 years. Your risk is you don't stand for enough to be compelling for people to shop with you. You're not fashionable enough, valuable enough. You don't have the sufficient assortment. You lack the high levels of service delivery of stores."
Some unlikely players are moving into old Sears stores. Gold's Gym, for instance, has retrofitted at least four former Sears mall locations and is aiming to drive more foot traffic to malls. If Sears hopes to survive life post-bankruptcy, it will need to aggressively find ways of taking what it has left and repositioning its purpose in the market. There's no doubt that Sears will emerge looking like a very different retailer that it once was.
Alan adds: "Radical surgery should be anticipated and is certainly required. I think what needs to happen is a lot of those stores really do need to be not just refreshed but sort of significantly reconfigured, probably into some core product categories where Sears has still some real strengths" adding that the store experience will also need a facelift so that it's "one that is worthwhile to go into."
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