Sears – Moving from centralized to decentralized management structure

In 2005, Sears Holdings was formed with the merger of Kmart and Sears. When the merger took place, a centralized managed structure was essential to control costs and focus on integrating the two companies. But recent profit declines and its struggle to win customers from its competitors have prompted retailer Sears Holdings Corp (Sears) to go for a new decentralized structure in order to turn around its business. Sears had earlier announced lower quarter profit expectations compared to last year. Even its holiday sales and sales of home goods such as appliances and tools slowed with the crumbling U.S. housing market and competition. A new structure was necessary for a turnaround.

The new structure – Five business units

The new structure separates its business units into:

  • Operating businesses – current product lines like appliances, apparel and electronics
  • Support – marketing, store operations and customer strategy
  • Brands
  • Online and
  • Real estate

The real estate and onine units will focus on increasing the “sales productivity” of real and virtual holdings. Each business unit will have a leader and an advisory group including senior Sears Holdings executives who will oversee performance. With these five business units, Sears (controlled by hedge fund manager Edward Lampert) can simplify the way they are managed, besides giving each unit greater power to focus on consumers and operating more efficiently.