Without further delay, here are the notes from the Sears shareholders' meeting.
A number of Retail Detail readers wrote in to ask when I'd make good on my promise to post notes from the Sears meeting. Sorry for the delay! Here goes.
Brands are company chairman Eddie Lampert's key to leveraging sales. Without committing to concepts such as selling Kenmore, Craftsman or Sears' various exclusive brand name products in other stores, Lampert did indicate that he did see value in squeezing profits from these lines.
- Despite sliding sales at Sears/Kmart, CEO Bruce Johnson pointed out that the Lands' End division posted record profitability and added 100 new stores.
- Sears expandings its online business as well as off-mall outlets and showrooms for appliances.
- Brands are key to strategy. Sears is introducing new brands and expanding their NordicTrack, Craftsman lines.
- Eddie Lampert says that there is no evidence that the environment for consumers has improved or that interest rate cuts have made a difference for consumers.
- Lampert sees a fundamental shift in how consumers are shopping. Social networking sites and online services like Netflix are changing the traditional brick and mortar retail game. Stores like Sears are going through a "digestion period" and trying to replace that lost traffic.
- Sears can "weather the [financial]storm but the storm is not going away tomorrow"
- Sears isn't banking on any consumer recovery this year.
- The barebones meeting had 150 different attendees including activist investor Bill Ackman and his colleagues from Pershing Square. Ackman says that he's happy with Lampert and thinks shares are undervalued.
Anyhow, I'm back in NYC on Monday. Lots to blog about so stay tuned!
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