Sears CMO Richard Gerstein Resigns

Departure Marks Second Top Marketer to Leave Ailing Retailer Since Edward Lampert Took Over in 2005

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After less than two years, Richard Gerstein, senior-VP marketing of Sears Holdings, has resigned.

Richard Gerstein
Richard Gerstein
Mr. Gerstein joined the company in July 2007 as CMO of Sears, ascending to the top marketing slot in August 2008, following the departure of Maureen McGuire. He is the second top marketer to leave since Edward Lampert took control of the company five years ago.

A Sears Holdings spokeswoman said Mr. Gerstein resigned this week and will depart May 7. Scott Freidheim, executive-VP of operating and support business units, will step in on an interim basis, the Sears Holdings spokeswoman said.

Mr. Gerstein, an Alberto Culver Beauty and Procter & Gamble alum, had been attempting to turn things around at the ailing retailer. He oversaw the retooling of marketing programs to focus on integrated content plays and digital assets, such as Good News Now, a Sears and AOL collaboration that delivers uplifting news, and KmartDesign.com, which houses profiles of Kmart designers.

"A lot of things are coming together at the right time to help us succeed," he told Ad Age in an interview last fall. "There are a lot of fundamental issues that we are fixing."

Still, the retailer has continued to struggle. Sales fell $33 million to $13.2 million during the quarter ended Jan. 30. For the full year, sales dropped $2.8 billion to $44 billion. Kmart has been a brighter spot than Sears; during the quarter, sales at stores open at least a year were down 2.5%, including a 1.7% rise at Kmart and a 6.1% drop at Sears domestic locations. For the full year, same-store sales fell 0.8% at Kmart and 8.7% at Sears' domestic stores.

Y&R, Chicago, handles Sears' creative, while DraftFCB handles creative for Kmart. MPG is responsible for media buying at both retailers.

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