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Just by Sticking Around, Analysts Say Sears Has Hurt Macy's

To truly understand the peculiar nature of the department store business, consider that Sears could outlive Macy's, at least as an independent company.

Industry observers have long predicted that Sears would wither away and die. The company, controlled with a tight fist by chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert, has certainly shrunk. But the once-venerable brand has stubbornly clung to life, even as it absorbs huge operating losses.

In fact, Sears has stuck around long enough to deprive Macy’s, which analysts consider a stronger, more viable chain, of much-needed sales and market share. Now that Canadian giant Hudson’s Bay is reportedly in talks to acquire Macy’s, a move that could lead to mass store closings, it’s quite possible that Sears could persevere a little longer and force other struggling retailers to consolidate.

“It’s crazy,” said Burt Flickinger, managing director of Strategic Resources Group, a consulting firm in New York. “Sears is still a longshot, but the retailer has a chance to come back. And if Sears comes back, anything is possible.”

Indeed, Sears stock rose 26 percent to close last week at $6.96 after Lampert announced a restructuring plan to save the company at least $1bn a year. He also said Sears would better analyze data to focus on getting its best customers to buy highly profitable merchandise.

In addition, Flickinger said, Sears has recently recruited some top talent to oversee its merchandising, customer loyalty and supply chain operations, including Girish Lakshman, a former top executive at Amazon in charge of transportation strategy, technology and customer returns, and Andrew Clarke, the former merchandising and design director for the New Look and Mim brands.

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