US retailer Sears appoints technology exec as CEO

Department store chain Sears, one of the largest retailers in the US, has appointed a former IT-industry executive as its new CEO.

The appointment of Lou D’Ambrosio, who was previously CEO of telecommunications equipment vendor Avaya and spent 16 years at IBM, reflects the growing importance of technology in the retail business, the company said.

“We were determined to find a leader with information and technology experience who could catalyze the transformation of our portfolio of businesses in the context of the evolution of the retail industry,” said Sears chairman Edward Lampert in a statement.

Founded in 1886, Sears has seen sales at its physical stores decline in recent years – 62 stores closed in 2009 – and has aggressively pursued ecommerce to compensate. It is the ninth largest online retailer in the US, with around $2.8 billion in online sales.

Like many online retailers, the company has recently experimented with social media technology as a route to market, acquiring a social search engine called Delver in 2009.

Interestingly, Sears and IBM have crossed paths before. In 1984, the two companies, along with broadcaster CBS, set up one of the very first Internet service providers, named Prodigy. By 1990, Prodigy was the second largest dial-up ISP in the US but has since been folded into AT&T.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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