Stephan Zoll, president of online operations at Sears Holdings Corp., will depart June 15, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company’s president of apparel, David Pastrana, and senior vice president of the company’s omnichannel loyalty program, Shop Your Way, are also leaving, according to a portion of an internal memo emailed Wednesday to Retail Dive by a Sears spokesperson.
- The news comes just hours after Sears' announcement of a new round of corporate layoffs on Tuesday, entailing the elimination of 400 full-time jobs at its corporate offices and throughout its global support operations. The moves also come on top of store positions eliminated this year as the company moves to shutter around 250 stores.
The executive departures represent important pieces of Sears' business going forward — its online sales, apparel business and the Shop Your Way loyalty program, which Sears CEO Eddie Lampert has touted as a key part of the company's turnaround strategy. For now it's not clear if those positions will be replaced and how the other corporate layoffs announced this week will affect specific teams at Sears.
"As you are aware, in February we initiated a strategic restructuring effort to become a more agile and competitive retailer with a clear path toward profitability," Sears Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert said in a letter sent to employees on Tuesday. "As part of our efforts to simplify our organizational structure, today, we are announcing the difficult decision to eliminate approximately 400 full-time positions at our corporate offices and support functions, in addition to certain positions related to our field operations. Accordingly, the following members of the executive leadership team will be departing the company after a brief transition and we wish them well for the future: Stephan Zoll, president of online; David Pastrana, president of apparel; and Eric Jaffe, senior vice president of Shop Your Way."
Sears this week said the restructuring moves made so far this year have reduced costs by an annualized $1 billion and that it's on pace to save $1.25 billion in annualized costs for fiscal 2017. Along with those cuts, Sears says it's paid down $418 million on outstanding term loans, made $200 million from real estate sales and other monetization efforts, and has grown the Shop Your Way loyalty program. The company did not provide specific figures with the statement, but a spokesperson noted to Retail Dive that the Shop Your Way VIP program has grown 50% year-to-date.
But such reductions and restructuring efforts have so far served mainly to pay debt and stave off death, and not to further the company's strength as a retailer. Many see in Sears one of the slowest and saddest, yet steadiest collapses of a retailer that once was an Amazon-like disrupter and a commercial giant across categories: apparel, bicycles, furniture, tools, toys and even houses.
These days many analysts and observers say the company is careening toward irrelevance and even insolvency as it sheds valuable assets, stores and employees. David Silverman, senior director of Fitch Ratings’ retail coverage, said in an interview Monday — before the news of the latest restructuring efforts — that there is still significant risk that Sears could go bankrupt in the next 12 to 24 months.
Sears on Tuesday projected an upbeat and focused face when turning toward the future. In its release, the company said it would “focus our investments to drive the growth of our valuable assets,” including its loyalty program, appliance and tool brands, as well as the auto, home and product repair services.
Meanwhile, Sears Canada, no longer affiliated with Sears Holdings since a controlling stake was sold in 2014 to Lampert's hedge fund, this week warned about its prospects as a going concern and is reportedly looking for a buyer, according to Canadian news outlet CBC News.