Sears CEO stepping down; Lampert taking reins
New York — In a surprise move, Sears Holdings Corp. announced that CEO Louis J. D’Ambrosio will step down as CEO, effective Feb. 2, for family health reasons. D’Ambrosio will be replaced by the company’s chairman and its largest shareholder, Edward Lampert.
The surprise move fuels more uncertainty at the retailer, which has struggled with ongoing declines in sales for the past five years. In announcing D’Ambrosio’s resignation, Sears also announced it expects to report a $280 million to $360 million loss ($2.64 to $3.40 per share) in the fourth quarter, which ends Feb. 2. The loss includes a non-cash charge of $450 million in pension settlements and $42 million in pension expenses.
D’Ambrosio became CEO of Sears Holdings in February 2011. He was previously president and CEO of Avaya Inc., a communications company. Before joining Avaya, D’Ambrosio spent 16 years at IBM Corp.
Sears said D’Ambrosio will remain on the board until May 2013.
"In light of Lou’s decision to step down, the board feels it is important that there is continuity of leadership during this important period of transformation and improvement at Sears Holdings,” said Lampert in a statement. “I have agreed to assume these additional responsibilities in order to continue the company’s recovery and sustain the momentum we are experiencing.”
The nature of the health issues affecting D’Ambrosio’s family was not disclosed.
Wet Seal names Sears exec as CEO
Foothill Ranch, Calif. — The Wet Seal has named John D. Goodman to serve as its new CEO, with his appointment effective Jan. 7. He replaces former CEO Susan McGalla, who was fired by the company in July 2012 amid sliding sales.
Goodman, who initially joined the Wet Seal as a board member in September 2012, is an apparel industry executive with over 25 years of experience at companies such as Gap, Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Mervyn’s, and Bloomingdale’s. Most recently, he served as EVP, chief apparel and home officer, Sears Holdings, overseeing both the Sears and Kmart brands. From 2008 to 2009, he led the turnaround at Charlotte Russe.
"I have always viewed Wet Seal as a pioneer in fast fashion and am thrilled to join the company as CEO," Goodman said "I am honored to have this opportunity to work with the company’s executives and associates in both merchandising and operations and return the brand to its roots and drive long-term success.”
Retail holiday hiring in 2012 reached highest level since 2006
New York — Hiring by the nation’s retailers this past holiday season was at the highest level in six years despite the uncertain economy, Superstorm Sandy and the presidential election, according to an analysis of government job data by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Chicago, a leading outplacement consultancy.
Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 retailers added 728,300 jobs, which was 10.3% more than the same-three month period in 2011. The retail jobs added for the holiday 2012 season were the strongest year-end hiring surge since 2006, when employment in the retail sector increased by 746,900.
Much of the holiday hiring occurred in October and November when retailers added 149,600 jobs and 490,400 workers, respectively. Merchants hired 88,300 workers in December, down from the 147,600 hired in December 2011.