Magazine article Marketing

Not Putting Best Feet Forward Is Sears' Downfall

Magazine article Marketing

Not Putting Best Feet Forward Is Sears' Downfall

Article excerpt

Far be it for me to put the boot into the footsore Sears Group, which has just announced a final, not to say ignominious exit from the UK shoe market. But it is all a sad reflection on the disastrous reign of one-time BA marketer turned Sears chief executive Liam Strong - the man of a thousand fascias, almost all of them loss-making.

As someone with a pathological dislike of shoe shopping, I must say that if every single one of those nylon-carpeted, over-lit dens of customer indifference closed tomorrow, it would be good riddance - with my only sympathy reserved for the staff who had the misfortune to be employed in these places.

Analysts had forecast that Sears' shoe shops could collectively lose [pounds]30m this year. In-house company doctor David James's patients are terminal. And he's starting the treatment by switching off the life-support machines at 150 of the most poorly-sited Shoe Express stores. At these it would appear that the main speciality, apart from bleeding cash, was in giving customers even less personal service than was on offer in its other chains.

In short, they can't even give these shops away, and it remains to be seen if any other retailer is brave enough to take Dolcis or Cable & Co off his hands.

The late Sir Charles Clore spent two decades building up Sears' British Shoe Corporation, and could once boast it sold one in every four pairs sold in the country.

The lesson for retailers is that even a short delay or a hiccup in keeping ahead in your customer service, quality and style aspirations can be disastrous. …

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