Kmart Shakes up Helm

Mar 12, 2002

Kmart Corp. finds itself replacing Chief Executive Chuck Conaway with Chairman James Adamson just three days after announcing it would close 284 stores and cut 22,000 jobs. The company is betting on Adamson and his new executive team to bring it out of bankruptcy.

Kmart also named Albert A. Koch, chairman of turnaround management firm Jay Alix & Associates, as its new chief financial officer, replacing John T. McDonald Jr. Julian Day, former chief operating officer of Sears, Roebuck and Co., was named president and chief operating officer.

Moderator Comment: Does Kmart’s new “Stuff for Life”
advertising campaign position the retailer as being unique in comparison to
its competitors?

According to the Associate Press report, Mr. Adamson
is planning to push Kmart exclusive brands such as the Martha Stewart line as
a means to differentiate the chain from its competition.

These same brands are notoriously conspicuous in their
absence from Kmart’s current ad campaign. The introduction of the new television
spots (created by TBWA/Chiat/Day in New York) attracted a lot of media attention
because Spike Lee directed the commercials.

After viewing the commercials you come to one conclusion.
Kmart sells the same stuff that everyone else does. This would not be bad if
the prices were lower than Wal-Mart’s (which they are not) or there was some
other clear benefit to shopping at the chain.

Perhaps, Kmart was trying to emulate Target’s positioning.
If it was, it did not work. Family life is not chic. No-name bed sheets are
not cool.

Mr. Adamson should pull the spots and invest the dollars
in putting product on the shelves that Kmart’s current customers want to buy.
That way both the chain and its customers would be getting something for their
money. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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