Retailer Sears' turn around efforts showing amid declining sales
BY CANDICE CHOI & MICHELLE CHAPMAN Associated Press
Friday, August 17, 2012
8/17/12 at 4:27 AM
Sears Holding Corp.'s push to turn around its ailing business is showing early signs of paying off, even as the retailer failed to stem declining sales.
The Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based company said Thursday that aggressive cost-cutting and reduced inventory levels helped narrow its loss in is fiscal second quarter from a year ago.
"We did what we said we were going to do," CEO and President Lou D'Ambrosio said in a letter to employees, noting that the company still has plenty of work ahead.
For the period ended July 28, Sears lost $132 million, or $1.25 per share. That compares with a loss of $146 million, or $1.37 per share, a year ago.
Despite the company's efforts to improve the customer experience in recent months, a key sales figure declined in the quarter at both its Sears and Kmart stores. In the U.S., the company said revenue from Sears stores open at least a year fell 2.9 percent. The figure declined 4.7 percent for Kmart locations.
Sears blamed competitive pricing for weaker sales of electronics. Lawn and garden sales also fell, with drought across the country hindering purchases.
Fewer clearance items also dragged down revenue, with tighter inventory levels limiting the amount of seasonal merchandise markdowns. Pharmacy sales fell as popular drugs such as cholesterol fighter Lipitor have come out in cheaper generic versions in the past year.
Back in May, Sears said it was investing heavily in improving the customer experience, with changes such as improved displays and iPads for sales staff to research products and help customers check out wherever they are in the store.
Original Print Headline: Sears sales wither, but its loss narrows
Wet/dry vacuums are displayed at a Sears in Bethel Park, Pa. The retailer's parent company reported Thursday that it lost $132 million in the fiscal quarter ending July 28. GENE J. PUSKAR/Associated Press