Is It Too Late For Sears To Save Itself?
Sears Holdings has indicated that “substantial doubt” exists about its ability to continue operations. While the announcement, made in the company’s recent annual report, seems to be a white flag of surrender, it could just be a yellow warning light. Analysts say that Sears may still have time to stage a turnaround. The company says it is taking action to ensure its future viability. So what should Sears do now? Its number one priority should be to protect and restore its brand. Some of the company’s moves in recent years have generated cash and kept the business afloat at the long-term expense of its brand. Strong brands like Lands’ End gave customers a reason to shop at Sears and cast a positive halo on the Sears brand. Selling off those brands may have had short-term benefits, but it eroded the brand in the long term. The company also sold off many of its best store locations, which means brand perceptions are now being shaped only by the customer experiences in older, shabbier, and poorly located stores. Sears needs to reverse this trend. Its brand still has clout; its name is as steeped in American culture as Coke and Levi’s. Once a lifeline for customers in rural areas with few shopping options, Sears has played an important role in many people’s lives. The company can tap into this goodwill if it insulates its brand from further hits and invests in restoring it to prominence. Read more at Harvard Business Review.