Sears Holdings Corp. announced that chairman and hedge fund billionaire Edward Lampert will take over as chief executive officer also.
The company offered an update on holiday sales that showed some improvements at its Sears stores.
Lampert succeeds Louis D’Ambrosio, who is leaving in February because of family health matters. D’Ambrosio was named CEO in February 2011, ending a three-year search.
Lampert has been known as a hands-on chairman at the operator of Sears and Kmart. The change formalizes that role at a time when the retailer is struggling with sales declines and losses.
“At the end of the day, there is only one person who makes the big decisions ... and that person is Mr. Lampert,” wrote Gary Balter, an analyst at Credit Suisse, in report. “Giving him an additional title does not change that reality, and in our opinion, does not change the direction of the company.”
In a statement, Lampert said he plans to continue to build on the steps outlined last year to get the company back on track.
Lampert engineered the combination of Sears and Kmart in 2005, about two years after he helped bring Kmart out of bankruptcy.
The company has posted six straight years of declines in revenue at stores opened at least a year. Critics have said the company hasn’t done enough to invest in its stores to compete with Walmart, Target and others.
Sears said Monday that in the nine-week period ending Dec. 29, revenue at stores open at least a year fell 1.8 percent, largely due to sales declines in consumer electronics at both Sears and Kmart.
The period included the crucial holiday season, when retailers can make up to 40 percent of annual revenue.