Sears’ Lampert Seeks Turnaround Advice from Ford’s Mulally

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Edward Lampert, the chairman, CEO and largest shareholder of Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD), sought the advice of Allan Mulally, the chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), on how to turnaround the struggling retailer, according to Reuters, based on information from people familiar with the situation.

According to one of the sources, Lampert met Mulally in Michigan earlier this year, around February or March. During their meeting, Lampert inquired about the strategies implemented by Mulally in reviving Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and building an effective management structure for the automaker.

Lampert weighs possibility for Mullaly to become Sears CEO

One of the people said Lampert left the impression that he is weighing the possibility of whether Mulally is open to becoming the next CEO of Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD). Another source emphasized that Lampert did not offer the job to Mulally and that Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) does not have an ongoing search process for a new leader. Mulally is set to retire as CEO of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) in July. He has not decided yet on his next move, according to Susan Krusel, a spokesperson for the automaker.

During an interview with CNBC on Friday, Mulally said he was glad to share the story of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F). When asked if he is open to leading Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD), he replied, “When I graduate on July 1st, I’m going to really think about where I am going to serve next.”

Most sought-after CEO

Mulally became one of the most popular and sought-after chief executives in the United States after he successfully revived the ailing financial situation of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), which was suffering from billions of dollars of losses before his arrival. During his tenure, the automaker became profitable and came out of the financial crisis better than peers in the industry.

Lampert-Mullaly meeting underscores retailers’ problems

Observers in the industry believe that Lampert’s meeting with Mulally demonstrated that Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) and other big retailers in the United States are facing difficult problems, particularly in finding executives with experience and skills within the current trends in the industry. Recruiters believe that most candidates within the retail industry either do not have experience in e-commerce or lack experience in managing retail chains. They believe this has compelled many retailers’ boards to look for executives who have experience in restructuring companies in other industries, like Mulally.

Bobbie Lenga, global retail practice leader at Reynolds Associates, said, “The issue isn’t that there aren’t some great people there. It is more of an issue that there aren’t that many of them, and that many of them are at a point where they are deciding in their career what they want to do next – if they want to keep going in the industry or move on. He added, “It is a very finite talent pool, and you always hear the same names being brought up for all these roles.”

Sears Holdings’ recently hired executives

Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) recently hired Arun Arora, former general manager of Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS), as head of its Home Services business; William Hutchinson, former vice president of global logistics and fulfillment at Dell Inc., as head of its Supply Chain; and Norman Miller, former COO of Dollar Financial Corp, to oversee its automotive business unit.

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