Since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, we must look at the entire organization as one system in order to find the biggest leverage point constraint for improvement.
Lampert was already a Wall Street wunderkind, celebrated for his intellect, ambition and prodigious work ethic. Then he bought Kmart out of bankruptcy and merged it with the venerable Sears. With the bankruptcy this week of Sears Holdings, which he has run as chief executive and chairman sinceMr.
Lampert, now 56, was back on the nation's front pages. The coverage has been as damning as it was once fawning.
Lampert has become the villain, accused of pillaging and destroying an American retail icon to further line his already stuffed pockets.
If that was his intent, it was a singularly inept effort. Lampert's steadfast - many would say stubborn - commitment to Sears has cost him billions in personal wealth, not to mention the damage to his reputation. Nearly all of his early investors have abandoned him. His hedge fund's assets have dwindled.
Last year, one of his staunchest backers, the hedge fund manager Bruce Berkowitz, bailed out, saying that Sears had "wrecked" his hedge fund's returns. The decline of Sears "has been hugely frustrating and fatiguing for me to watch," Mr. Berkowitz told his investors. Thanks to his early successes, Mr.
He will likely emerge from the Sears collapse with many more assets than most people realize. He owns lavish homes in Greenwich, Conn. But he no longer makes the cut for Forbes's richest Americans.
At Sears, all of his compensation was in stock. He never sold a share. The stock is now all but worthless. Lampert told me this week in a wide-ranging interview, his first since the bankruptcy filing. There's been an enormous opportunity cost. Lampert first merged two once-popular but struggling retailers in On one flank was the mighty Walmart.
On the other was the fast-growing Amazon. Sears lacked Walmart's economies of scale and Amazon's digital reach. Lampert knew that great fortunes aren't made by following conventional wisdom. But I was trying to be opportunistic. I was willing to make a very big bet in money and time.
Lampert, but few others, saw was the combination of Sears's brands and customer loyalty and Kmart's attractive real estate, most of it in prime stand-alone locations rather than within aging malls.
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