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才免于破产,又陷战略困境,这家零售商何去何从?

Phil Wahba 2019年02月21日

西尔斯的销售额年复一年下滑,店面投资不足及商品配置优化失败也让业务受到了影响。

西尔斯(Sears)和凯马特(Kmart)在破产后有了一项新战略:扩大工具和家电销售,减少服装销售并缩小店面。

2004年收购凯马特使其免于破产,并在第二年将其与西尔斯合并的对冲基金之王艾迪·兰伯特对《华尔街日报》(Wall Street Journal)表示,近年来这家羸弱的公司旗下的各个品牌都关闭了数百家门店,它将在店内用更多空间销售工具和家电。虽然西尔斯的市场份额连年下降,门店规模持续缩小,但该公司在这一领域依旧有竞争力。

新公司将拥有223家西尔斯门店和202家凯马特门店。由于兰伯特在本月早些时候的破产法院拍卖中出资52亿美元,这两家标志性的零售商有了重获新生的机会。

但这并不容易。

兰伯特在2013年至2018年期间担任西尔斯的首席执行官,也是之前西尔斯的最大股东。但是在他的领导下,两家连锁店江河日下,销售额年复一年下滑,店面投资不足及商品配置优化失败也让业务受到了影响。

多年来,西尔斯把长期主导的家用电器等领域的市场份额拱手让给了家得宝(Home Depot)、劳氏(Lowe’s)和百思买(Best Buy)。而凯马特也跟不上沃尔玛(Walmart)、塔吉特(Target)或科尔士百货(Kohl’s)的崛起速度。

兰伯特的计划中有值得赞美之处。服饰领域长期困扰着西尔斯(还记得从上一代人经历的“西尔斯柔软的一面”营销吗?),甚至连梅西百货(Macy’s)和彭尼(J.C. Penney)这样实力更强的零售商也在该市场表现挣扎。所以,除非西尔斯能够推出爆款,否则降低服饰比重,增加耐用品销售,兰伯特的计划很有道理。(在塔吉特和沃尔玛甚至还在进一步增加服饰竞争时这样做,绝非十拿九稳。)

不过耐用品存在的一个问题在于西尔斯浪费了自己最大的优势:巅峰时期,西尔斯占据了美国41%的大型家电市场。《华尔街日报》援引TraOline的数据指出,这一比例如今已经下滑了13%。(经常与西尔斯在商场中一起出现的邻居彭尼最近宣布停止销售家电。该公司曾在2016年决定重返这个33年前离开的市场,希望借着西尔斯的衰退的机会分一杯羹。但最后没能取得理想的效果。)此外,无论服饰市场的竞争多么剧烈,它至少可以带来更多的门店客流量:毕竟,你每隔十几年才会买一台冰箱,但每年会买好几次衣服。

兰伯特缩小门店的想法也符合零售业的发展方向,门店更像是展示间,而更多的销售在网上进行。科尔士百货就减小了数百家门店的销售区,而塔吉特则开设了数十家小型门店。破产后,西尔斯拥有更干净的财务和更大的灵活性来这么做,不过还需要打通网店店主和供应商。(兰伯特本人对《华尔街日报》表示,商场老板无意支持一家刚刚破产的公司。)

情况不至于绝望:毕竟,西尔斯和凯马特依旧是大型零售商,有着忠实顾客,也不再受到债务困扰。不过正如多年销售额下滑(西尔斯没有一年的销售额出现增长)所体现的那样,许多顾客已经离开。西尔斯能否向顾客提供其他地方所没有的特色,目前仍然要打个问号。(ag体育平台|官网)

译者:严匡正

Sears and Kmart have a new strategy, post-bankruptcy: more tools and appliances but less clothing and smaller locations.

Eddie Lampert, the hedge fund king who bought Kmart out of bankruptcy in 2004 and melded it with Sears a year later, told the Wall Street Journal that the leaner company, which has closed hundreds of stores under each brands in recent years, would allocate more space in stores to areas like tools and appliances, where Sears remains a contender despite years of market share loss, and shrink store size.

The new company, which will have 223 Sears stores and 202 Kmart locations, gives two iconic retailers another chance at life thanks to a $5.2 billion offer by Lampert earlier this month in a bankruptcy court auction.

But it won’t be easy.

Under Lampert, who was CEO between 2013 and 2018 and the former Sears Holdings top shareholder by far, the two chains withered away, with sales declining year in, year out, business hurt by a lack of investment in stores and a failure to improve merchandise assortment.

For years, Sears bled market share in areas like home appliances it had long dominated to the likes of Home Depot, Lowe’s and Best Buy, while Kmart couldn’t keep up with the rise of Walmart, Target or Kohl’s.

There are things to laud in Lampert’s plan. Apparel is a category that has long bedeviled Sears (remember its ‘The Softer Side of Sears’ campaigns from a generation ago?), and even more competent retailers like Macy’s and J.C. Penney are struggling on that side, so he is right to down play that in favor of hard goods unless Sears can come up with a compelling assortment. (That’s no slam dunk at a time even Target and Walmart are upping their apparel game.)

But one problem with hard goods is that Sears has squandered its own big lead: at its peak, Sears commanded 41% of the U.S. major appliance market. According to the WSJ, citing TraOline, that is down to about 13%. (J.C. Penney, Sears’ frequent mall neighbor, recently announced it would stop selling appliances, a category it returned to in 2016 aftag亚游在线登陆|注册er 33 years in a move intended to take advag亚游在线登陆|注册antage of Sears’ decline. But it didn’t yield the expected results.) What’s more, however competitive the apparel market is, it does at least yield more frequent store visits: after all, you only buy a fridge once a decade or so, but will go shop for clothes a few times a year.

His idea for smaller stores is also in tune with where retail is heading, with stores becoming showrooms and more sales happening online. Kohl’s has shrunk the selling area at hundreds of stores, while Target has opened dozens of successful smaller format locations. Post bankruptcy, Sears has much cleaner finances and flexibility to do that but it will also have to get landlords and vendors on line. (Lampert himself told the WSJ that mall owners “were not rooting for the company to emerge from bankruptcy.”)

The situation is not hopeless: after all, Sears and Kmart remain large retailers with established clienteles, and are no longer choking under debt. But as years of sales declines (Sears Holdings didn’t have a single year of sales growth) have shown, many shoppers have moved on. It’s still not clear what Sears can offer them that they can’t find elsewhere.

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