CEO Changes at Sears Holdings, Wet Seal, Delia’s

Sears Holdings Chairman Lampert to Take on CEO Duties

Edward Lampert

Hoffman Estates, IL—Edward Lampert, the controversial hedge-fund manager and chairman of Sears Holdings, is slated to assume duties as the company’s chief executive officer, it was announced late Monday.

The additional duties came after Lou D’Ambrosio, current ceo, announced he would step down effective Feb. 2 due to a family health matter. D’Ambrosio, who became ceo about two years ago, will continue on the board of directors through May “to assist with a smooth transition,” the company said.

“In light of Lou’s decision to step down, the board feels it is important that there is continuity of leadership during this important period of transformation and improvement at Sears Holdings,” Lampert said in a statement. “I have agreed to assume these additional responsibilities in order to continue the company’s recovery and sustain the momentum we are experiencing, as well as further the development of the management team under the distributed leadership model, which provides our business unit leaders with greater control, authority and autonomy.”

Lampert, who holds an estimated 55% of Sears shares, took control of Sears in 2005 after arranging a merger between Kmart and Sears Roebuck & Co. Since then the company has set some major setbacks including lower sales and falling stock prices.

D’Ambrosio, who had headed a telecommunications company, became aboard after working for Sears Holdings as a consultant.

“I have worked very closely with Eddie over the past two years. I can say this: there is simply no one in the world that cares more about Sears Holdings and has thought more deeply about our company than Eddie,” D’Ambrosio wrote to employees.

Lampert is chairman/ceo of ESL Investments, Inc., a $4.6 billion hedge fund that he founded in Dallas in 1988, which is now based in Greenwich, Conn. According to Lionshares.com, an online corporate ownership database, ESL’s primary holdings are in Sears but it also has shares in others including Gap Inc, Capital One Financial Corp and Netflix Inc.

While Sears Holdings’ shares rose some 47% in the last year, there’s still much more work to be done on Sears’ turnaround. The company said it expects to post a net loss of $280 million to $360 million, or $2.64 to $3.40 a share, for its fourth quarter ending Feb. 2. (The loss includes a $450 million pension charge, too).

 

Retail Veteran to Helm Wet Seal Inc.

Foothill Ranch, CA—Wet Seal announced Monday that John Goodman, former chief apparel and home officer of Sears Holdings, became its chief executive officer beginning Monday.

Goodman, whose most recent post oversaw both Sears and Kmart, will be responsible for turning around the Wet Seal business, fills a post vacated in July 2012 when Susan McGalla was fired as chief executive after just 11 months on the job. The company’s stock had dropped nearly 50% and continues to post monthly comparable store sales declines.

Initially, Goodman came to the company as a member of the board of directors in September 2012. He is a well-respected apparel industry executive with more than 25 years of experience at well known companies such as Gap, Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Mervyn’s, and Bloomingdale’s. He brings proven success in junior specialty store retailing and is recognized as an engaging and versatile leader. From 2008 to 2009, while he led the turnaround at Charlotte Russe.

“I have always viewed Wet Seal as a pioneer in fast fashion and am thrilled to join the company as ceo,” said Goodman. “I am honored to have this opportunity to work with the company’s executives and associates in both merchandising and operations and return the brand to its roots and drive long-term success. I am delighted to work with our board and the existing management team in restoring profitability while pursuing new avenues for growth and building overall shareholder value.

 

dELiA*s Seeks New CEO

New York–dELiA*s Inc. said Monday that it has begun looking for a new chief executive officer.

Walter Killough, current ceo, and the specialty retailer “have mutually agreed not to renew Killough’s employment agreement,” the specialty retailer said.

Killough’s contract is set to expire on August 2, but Killough probably will depart on April 1 unless a new chief executive hasn’t been found.

 

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