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Sears Holdings unveils shake-up

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Sears Holdings plans a major reorganization of its internal structure, moving toward an interconnected group of independent businesses with more autonomy than is currently in place.

“We are introducing an organizational structure that provides operating businesses with greater control, authority and autonomy,” read a statement from the parent of Sears and Kmart stores. The company said its various operating businesses will be given a “designated leader and an advisory group comprised of senior Sears Holdings executives to provide direction and oversee the business unit’s performance.”

Sears representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The move comes after the retailer announced weak holiday results and a melancholy outlook for the fourth quarter.

Earlier this month, Sears Holdings announced declines in comparable-store sales for both its Sears and Kmart stores for the nine-week holiday period ended Jan. 5 and offered sober guidance for the upcoming quarter.

Sears domestic saw a 2.8 percent decline during the months of November and December, while Kmart’s comparable-store sales declined 4.2 percent for the period. Total domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.5 percent for the nine-week period, the company said. The most notable declines occurred in the Sears apparel and tools categories and the Kmart seasonal categories.

The company attributed the declines to increased competition and the negative impact of unfavorable economic conditions.

Sears Holdings also announced its fourth-quarter projections. The company expects net income for the quarter to be in the range of $350 million to $470 million, or $2.59 to $3.48 per share — down from earlier analyst estimates of $4.43 per share.

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Lowe’s CEO named RILA chairman

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Retail Industry Leaders Association announced Robert A. Niblock, chairman and CEO of Lowe’s Cos., as chairman of the RILA board of directors.

The elections were held at RILA’s Annual Leadership Forum in Naples, Fla.

Niblock, who was previously the vice chairman, takes over for Brad Anderson, CEO of Best Buy, who served as chairman since 2005. Anderson will remain on the board.

“A strong retail industry is vital to the strength of the American economy,” said Niblock. “I am honored to have been selected as chairman and look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to strengthen our industry, support economic growth and best serve our customers.”

In related news, John B. Menzer, who recently announced his retirement as chief administrative officer of Wal-Mart Stores, will be retiring as vice chairman of RILA’s board of directors, as will Robert Stevenish, president and COO of Modell’s Sporting Goods.

RILA focuses on issues related to work force, supply chain, finance, asset protection and issues that span the entire retail enterprise, including sustainability and information technology, with a membership that includes eight of the 10 largest U.S. retailers.

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Founder of Rickel Home Centers dies at 90

BY Kate Fazzini

Alvin M. Rickel, founder of Rickel Home Centers, died Jan. 15 at the age of 90.

Rickel’s son, Larry, called his father an “innovator” who launched some now-familiar concepts decades ago, such as the 100,000-square-foot all-in-one home improvement store and kitchen and bath showrooms.

“People couldn’t afford to have somebody do it for them, so he encouraged the idea that even for large projects, they could do it themselves,” he said. “My dad always loved doing business, and he was always very involved in the day-to-day business operations at the stores.”

Rickel served in the Army Air Corps. during World War II, where he got his first taste of supply chain management working as a supply sergeant in the South Pacific. After the war, he opened the first Rickel Home Center in Union, N.J. He started the business with his brothers, Bob and Mort, using a G.I. Bill loan.

The chain grew to more than 100 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Rickel Home Centers was purchased in 1969 by Supermarkets General Corp. and thrived for many years. But faced with heavy competition in the 1990s by warehouse stores, the chain’s store count eventually dwindled to around 40, and in 1997, the company’s board of directors decided to close its doors.

Always the businessman, Larry noted that even after his retirement, Rickel served as a consultant to some of the warehouse home improvement chains and later purchased a store in St. Croix, where he and his wife vacationed in retirement. Rickel also remained very active in the community, including serving on the board of trustees for Congregation Bnai Jeshurun in Short Hills, N.J.

Rickel is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ailene; children, Kyle and Tom Einhorn and Stephanie and Larry Rickel; grandchildren, Emily and Lewis Liebert, Joshua, Lindsay and Zachary; brother, Robert; and sister, Miriam.

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