Forbes August 29, No one could blame Sears for closing stores that are losing money.
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.
That promise seemed to be borne out in the early years. But the financial crisis and the collapse of the housing market hit Sears's appliance and housewares sales.
Sears never regained momentum. Lampert told me, he realized that nothing less than a radical transformation of Sears's culture would allow it to keep up with the digital revolution that was transforming the retail industry.
That year, he launched the store's ShopYourWay campaign as the cornerstone of a new data-driven and customer-focused strategy to compete with Amazon. Lampert met his match. He said he didn't pick the best executives to fully embrace the company's digital makeover. As one example, he cited his attempt to convert underutilized space into internet lounges, which offered customers free Wi-Fi and a place to relax.
It was an attempt to get customers, many of whom didn't have internet access at home at the time, into stores, much as Starbucks had attracted laptop-toting coffee drinkers.
This was anathema to traditional retailers, who measured success strictly in terms of sales per square foot and for whom any space not dedicated to merchandise was a waste. Nonetheless, the computer-equipped internet lounges were rolled out in Sears locations - but in a halfhearted manner.
Lampert himself became chief executive, something he said he had never aspired to. He expected to stay in the role only a few months.The FIFA World Cup was the 21st FIFA World Cup, an international football tournament contested by the men's national teams of the member associations of FIFA once every four years.
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