Sears' New CIO Starts With Lands' EndBy Baselinemag | Posted 2002-12-01 Email Print
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Garry Kelly must help return the $41 billion department-store retailer to health, while simultaneously digesting a $1.6 billion direct-sales operation.
It's offering zero-percent financing on everything from appliances to treadmills. It's trying out a two-word tagline"Where else?"which tries to build on its long relationship with American consumers. It's absorbing one of the nation's most fabled direct-marketing operations, Lands' End, and taking the wraps off store makeovers just in time for the critical Christmas shopping season. And, as that holiday season dawned, Sears said it has named a new chief information officer to replace the one that left after the Lands' End acquisition was announced in May.
New CIO Garry Kelly arrives at a critical juncture. Investors, rivals and employees are all looking for a sign that the one-time top dog in U.S. retailing is turning itself around in the fiscal year that ends Dec. 31. Last year, the company's net income fell to $735 million on revenue of $41.1 billion. That's essentially half the profit it recorded two years earlier, on the same amount of sales. And profits in its September quarter still were behind the pace of last year.
Kelly was brought in to replace acting CIO Don Zimmerman, who was moved into place last May after former CIO Jerry Miller's sudden departure just days after the Lands' End venture was announced. Kelly, whose résumé includes stints at Payless ShoeSource and Wilson Sporting Goods, will have to help solidify the operations of Sears' credit-card division, where a growing mound of unpaid debt led to the abrupt departure of the executive who ran it. And, he faces one of the largest challenges of all in its technology operations, specifically pertaining to the Lands' End acquisitionhow much to integrate, how fast and in what direction. How will the technologically fleet-footed Lands' End live with the larger, older, slower-paced Sears?