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Is Sears Quietly Recruiting Top Executives to Change How it Runs Apparel?

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Sears Holdings is reshaping its leadership to help drive its revamped retail strategy, and the latest acquisition is former Amazon executive Girish Lakshman who will lead fulfillment for the company as part of its integrated retail strategy.

At Amazon, Lakshman was most recently the company’s vice president of worldwide transportation strategy, technology and customer returns. He also held roles in transportation, technology, logistics and operational excellence during his 15-year tenure there.

Sears chairman and CEO Edward Lampert said Monday, “He [Lakshman] will work closely with me and our supply chain and inventory management leaders to enhance our members’ experiences and support our transformation as an integrated retailer.”

Some of Sears’ recent hires have come on board quietly—no press releases, no official statements.

In July, Sears brought on Joelle Maher, former Gymboree Corporation CEO, as Sears president and chief member officer to develop its Shop Your Way member-centric platform, and align its merchandising, marketing, pricing and selling with members’ needs.

In April, Victor Ejarque, who was previously Inditex’s buying director for its Stradivarius brand, became the general merchandise manager for Kmart womenswear and accessories.

When the company appointed former Primark exec Liz Simon as president of Sears apparel in March, an insider alerted Sourcing Journal of the move before a call to Sears confirmed it. The news came shortly following the retailer’s announcement that it would lease space in seven of its stores to Europe’s trend-right, low-price Primark.

In January, the company pegged former Victoria’s Secret VP of apparel and footwear design Rachel Rushforth Worrell to be its president of design for Sears and Kmart apparel.

Sears also hired Andrew Clarke last September without making much noise, and the former merchandising and design director for the UK’s New Look and Mim brands, is now president of Kmart Apparel.

The company may still be struggling but its hiring changes could indicate a new way for apparel going forward.

Sears domestic comparable stores sales declined 14 percent in the second quarter ended Aug. 1 and Kmart’s sales fell 7.3%, which the retailer in part attributed to highly targeted promotion and marketing spend “to better align with member needs” and a shift away from low-margin categories like electronics.

A source in Bangladesh familiar with the company said there has been increased activity from Sears and Kmart in the low cost country and some of these new executives have been traveling to South Asia and placing large orders on the spot.

It may be that some of Sears’ new hires are bringing with them a bit of the European buying mentality, the source suggested, and the now-on-board fast fashion and technology talent could shake up apparel at Sears.

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