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Company > Sears Holdings: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2023

Sears Holdings: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2023

Published: Jun 30, 2023

Inside This Article


    In this blog article, we will delve into an in-depth analysis of Sears Holdings, a retail giant that has been in operation for numerous years. We will begin by discussing the company's business model, exploring how it operates and generates revenue in the evolving retail landscape. Furthermore, we will conduct a SWOT analysis, highlighting the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that Sears Holdings faces in the current market. Lastly, we will identify and evaluate its key competitors, examining their strategies and potential impacts on Sears Holdings' future success.

    What You Will Learn:

    • Who owns Sears Holdings and the implications of its ownership structure
    • The mission statement of Sears Holdings and its significance in guiding the company's operations
    • How Sears Holdings generates revenue and sustains its business model
    • An in-depth explanation of Sears Holdings' Business Model Canvas and its key components
    • The major competitors of Sears Holdings and their impact on the company's market position
    • A comprehensive SWOT analysis of Sears Holdings, including its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

    Who owns Sears Holdings?


    Sears Holdings, once an iconic American retail giant, has seen a significant decline in recent years. As the company struggles to stay afloat, many people are curious about who currently owns Sears Holdings. In this section, we will delve into the ownership structure of the company and shed light on the key stakeholders involved.

    Majority Shareholder - ESL Investments

    At present, the majority owner of Sears Holdings is ESL Investments, a hedge fund managed by Edward S. Lampert. Lampert, who was previously the CEO of Sears Holdings, has been a pivotal figure in the company's journey. He has a long history with the retailer, having first invested in the company in 2005.

    Edward S. Lampert: The Key Player

    Edward S. Lampert is a prominent figure in the retail industry and has been actively involved in reshaping Sears Holdings. Lampert's tenure as CEO, which began in 2013, aimed to turn around the struggling company. However, despite his efforts, Sears Holdings continued to face challenges and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

    Lampert's ownership of Sears Holdings is through ESL Investments, which holds a significant stake in the company. He has been a driving force behind various strategic decisions, including the sale of assets, cost-cutting measures, and attempts to revitalize the brand.

    Other Stakeholders

    Aside from ESL Investments, several other stakeholders have a notable interest in Sears Holdings. These include institutional investors, such as mutual funds and pension funds, who hold varying degrees of ownership in the company. Their involvement signifies the continued interest in Sears Holdings and the potential for its revival.

    Additionally, suppliers, employees, and customers also have a stake in the company's success. Suppliers rely on Sears Holdings for business, employees depend on the company for their livelihoods, and customers seek the availability of quality products and services.


    In conclusion, the ownership of Sears Holdings primarily lies with ESL Investments, managed by Edward S. Lampert. As the majority shareholder, Lampert has played a significant role in the company's journey, attempting to navigate through the challenges faced by the retail giant. However, it is important to recognize the diverse set of stakeholders, including institutional investors, suppliers, employees, and customers, who all have a vested interest in the future success of Sears Holdings.

    What is the mission statement of Sears Holdings?

    Understanding the Mission Statement

    A mission statement is an essential component for any organization as it outlines the company's purpose, goals, and values. It serves as a guiding principle that shapes the company's strategic decisions and helps align the organization's efforts towards a common objective. In the case of Sears Holdings, understanding their mission statement provides insights into their business and the values they uphold.

    The Mission Statement of Sears Holdings

    Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart, has a mission statement that reflects their commitment to serving their customers and delivering value. The mission statement of Sears Holdings is as follows:

    "To grow our business by providing quality products and services at great value when and where our customers want them, and by building positive, lasting relationships with our customers."

    This mission statement encompasses several key elements that define the company's purpose and direction. Let's break down the components to gain a better understanding.

    1. Growing the Business

    The first part of the mission statement highlights Sears Holdings' focus on growth. By stating their intention to grow, the company acknowledges the importance of expanding their reach, market share, and profitability. This emphasis on growth reflects the company's ambition to remain competitive in a constantly evolving retail landscape.

    2. Providing Quality Products and Services

    Sears Holdings emphasizes the importance of offering quality products and services. This commitment to quality ensures that customers receive reliable and durable products, backed by exceptional service. By providing products and services that meet or exceed customers' expectations, Sears Holdings aims to establish trust and loyalty among its customer base.

    3. Great Value and Convenience

    The mission statement recognizes the significance of offering great value to customers. Sears Holdings positions itself as a provider of affordable products and services, aiming to deliver value that exceeds the price paid by customers. Moreover, they emphasize the importance of convenience, acknowledging the need to provide products and services when and where customers want them. This focus on value and convenience is crucial in attracting and retaining customers in a competitive retail market.

    4. Building Positive, Lasting Relationships

    Sears Holdings recognizes the importance of customer relationships and emphasizes the need to build positive and lasting connections. By prioritizing relationship-building, the company aims to foster customer loyalty and repeat business. This component of the mission statement underscores the company's commitment to providing excellent customer service and creating a positive customer experience.

    Overall, Sears Holdings' mission statement highlights their dedication to growth, quality, value, convenience, and building lasting customer relationships. Understanding their mission statement provides valuable insights into the company's direction and serves as a foundation for their strategic decision-making.

    How does Sears Holdings make money?

    Retail Sales

    One of the primary ways Sears Holdings generates revenue is through its retail sales. Sears operates various department stores, including Sears and Kmart, where customers can purchase a wide range of products such as appliances, home goods, clothing, electronics, and tools. Through its extensive network of physical stores and online platforms, the company attracts customers and earns revenue by selling these products at a profit.

    Home Services

    In addition to retail sales, Sears Holdings offers various home services, which contribute to its revenue stream. These services include appliance repair, installation, and maintenance, as well as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) services. With a team of trained technicians and professionals, Sears provides these services to both residential and commercial customers, charging fees for the work performed. This segment of Sears' business not only generates revenue but also fosters customer loyalty and drives traffic to its retail stores.

    Licensing and Franchising

    Sears Holdings also generates income through licensing and franchising agreements. The company licenses its brand name, trademarks, and proprietary products to third-party manufacturers and retailers. These licensees pay royalties to Sears in exchange for using the brand and selling products under its name. Similarly, Sears offers franchising opportunities to entrepreneurs who wish to operate Sears-branded stores. In return for the right to use the Sears name and benefit from its established reputation, these franchisees pay fees and royalties to Sears Holdings.

    Real Estate Investments

    Another source of revenue for Sears Holdings is its real estate investments. Over the years, the company has acquired substantial amounts of real estate, including its retail stores and distribution centers. Sears has strategically leveraged its real estate assets by entering into sale-leaseback agreements. Under these agreements, Sears sells its properties to a real estate investment trust (REIT) or other third-party investors and then leases the properties back from them. This arrangement allows Sears to generate immediate cash while still operating its stores and facilities, albeit as a tenant.

    Online Marketplace

    Sears Holdings also operates an online marketplace where third-party sellers can list and sell their products. Through its digital platform, Sears provides a channel for small businesses and individual sellers to reach a broader customer base. Sears earns revenue by charging fees or commissions for each transaction facilitated through its online marketplace. This diversification into e-commerce allows Sears Holdings to tap into the growing online retail market and generate additional income beyond its brick-and-mortar stores.

    In conclusion, Sears Holdings employs various revenue streams to make money. From its retail sales and home services to licensing and franchising agreements, real estate investments, and an online marketplace, the company utilizes a multi-faceted approach to generate revenue and sustain its operations.

    Sears Holdings Business Model Canvas Explained


    The Sears Holdings Business Model Canvas provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the various components and relationships that make up the business model of Sears Holdings Corporation. By analyzing each element of the canvas, we can gain valuable insights into how this retail giant operates and sustains its competitive advantage in the market.

    Key Partnerships

    One of the crucial aspects of Sears Holdings' business model is its extensive network of key partnerships. These partnerships are essential for the company to maintain its wide range of products and services. Sears Holdings collaborates with various suppliers, manufacturers, and vendors to ensure a diverse and extensive inventory for its customers. Additionally, the company has forged strategic alliances with financial institutions, enabling it to offer credit services and payment options to its customers.

    Key Activities

    Sears Holdings engages in a multitude of key activities to deliver value to its customers. This includes managing its retail stores, both physical and online, where customers can explore and purchase products. The company also focuses on maintaining its supply chain operations to ensure a smooth flow of goods from suppliers to stores. Furthermore, Sears Holdings invests heavily in marketing and advertising campaigns to attract and retain customers, as well as providing customer support and after-sales services.

    Key Resources

    To support its business model, Sears Holdings relies on a variety of key resources. These resources include its extensive network of retail stores, distribution centers, and warehouses, which serve as physical touchpoints for customers. The company also leverages its brand reputation and customer loyalty to stay competitive in the market. Moreover, Sears Holdings' digital infrastructure, including its e-commerce platform and online presence, plays a vital role in reaching a wider customer base and driving sales.

    Value Proposition

    Sears Holdings' value proposition lies in its ability to offer a wide range of products and services, catering to the diverse needs of its customers. The company focuses on providing quality merchandise at competitive prices, ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. Additionally, Sears Holdings offers various credit and financing options, making it convenient for customers to make purchases. The company's commitment to customer service, including after-sales support and warranty programs, further enhances its value proposition.

    Customer Segments

    Sears Holdings serves a broad range of customer segments, including individuals and households seeking various products for their homes, as well as professional customers in need of tools and equipment. The company targets customers across different age groups and income levels, offering a mix of affordable and high-end products to cater to diverse preferences. Sears Holdings also recognizes the importance of online shoppers and has adapted its business model to include an e-commerce platform to reach tech-savvy customers.


    To reach its customers effectively, Sears Holdings utilizes multiple channels. Traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores remain a significant channel for the company, allowing customers to physically explore and purchase products. Additionally, the company leverages its e-commerce platform to provide a seamless online shopping experience. Moreover, Sears Holdings engages in strategic partnerships with other retailers to expand its distribution reach and tap into new customer segments.

    Cost Structure

    Sears Holdings' cost structure is primarily composed of expenses related to maintaining its physical infrastructure, such as rent and utilities for its retail stores and warehouses. The company also incurs costs associated with procurement and logistics to ensure a steady supply of products. Marketing and advertising expenses, including promotional campaigns and customer loyalty programs, are another significant component of the cost structure. Moreover, Sears Holdings invests in employee training and development to provide excellent customer service.

    Revenue Streams

    The primary revenue stream for Sears Holdings comes from the sale of products through its retail stores and e-commerce platform. The company generates revenue by offering a diverse range of merchandise, including appliances, apparel, home goods, and tools. Additionally, Sears Holdings earns revenue through its credit and financing services, charging interest and fees on customer purchases. The company also benefits from partnerships and licensing agreements, generating additional revenue streams.


    The Sears Holdings Business Model Canvas sheds light on the various components that contribute to the success of this retail giant. By understanding the key partnerships, activities, resources, and value proposition, we can appreciate the company's ability to cater to a wide range of customer segments. The utilization of multiple channels, cost structure, and diverse revenue streams further solidify Sears Holdings' position in the market. Overall, the Business Model Canvas provides a comprehensive overview of Sears Holdings' strategies and operations, highlighting its unique value proposition in the retail industry.

    Which companies are the competitors of Sears Holdings?

    Competitors in the Retail Industry

    In the highly competitive retail industry, Sears Holdings faces tough competition from various companies. Here are some of its main competitors:

    1. Walmart: As the world's largest retailer, Walmart poses a significant threat to Sears Holdings. With its extensive range of products, competitive prices, and strong online presence, Walmart attracts a vast customer base.

    2. Target: Target is another major competitor for Sears Holdings. Known for its trendy and affordable merchandise, Target appeals to a wide range of customers. The company has also made significant investments in improving its online shopping experience, further intensifying the competition.

    3. Best Buy: While primarily known for its electronics and appliances, Best Buy competes with Sears Holdings in the home appliances and electronics categories. Best Buy's strong brand reputation, knowledgeable staff, and extensive product selection make it a formidable rival.

    4. Home Depot: As a leading home improvement retailer, Home Depot directly competes with Sears Holdings' appliance and tools categories. Home Depot's vast selection of home improvement products, coupled with its reputation for quality and customer service, makes it a strong competitor.

    5. Amazon: In the era of e-commerce dominance, Amazon has disrupted the retail landscape, affecting traditional brick-and-mortar retailers like Sears Holdings. With its vast range of products, competitive prices, and convenient delivery options, Amazon has become a go-to destination for many consumers.

    6. Macy's: Macy's, a renowned department store chain, competes with Sears Holdings in various product categories, including apparel, home goods, and appliances. Macy's strong brand recognition, extensive network of stores, and focus on customer experience make it a key competitor.

    7. Kohl's: Kohl's is a major competitor for Sears Holdings, particularly in the clothing, accessories, and home goods segments. With its attractive discounts, loyalty programs, and emphasis on value, Kohl's attracts price-conscious shoppers.

    These are just a few examples of the competitors Sears Holdings faces in the retail industry. As consumer preferences and shopping habits continue to evolve, the company must stay agile and adapt to the changing landscape to remain competitive.

    Sears Holdings SWOT Analysis


    1. Diverse Product Portfolio: One of the key strengths of Sears Holdings is its wide range of products and services. The company offers a comprehensive selection of home appliances, tools, clothing, electronics, and even automotive services. This diversification allows Sears Holdings to appeal to a broad customer base and cater to different consumer needs.

    2. Established Brand Name: With a history spanning over a century, Sears Holdings has established a strong brand identity. The company has built a reputation for quality and reliability, which helps to attract and retain customers. The well-known Sears and Kmart brands are recognized by consumers and evoke a sense of trust and familiarity.

    3. Extensive Store Network: Sears Holdings operates a large network of physical stores across the United States. This extensive presence provides the company with a competitive advantage by ensuring widespread accessibility for customers. The physical stores also serve as a platform for showcasing products and offering personalized customer service.


    1. Declining Sales and Revenue: Sears Holdings has been facing a significant decline in sales and revenue over the past few years. The company has struggled to adapt to changing consumer preferences and increased competition from online retailers. This weakness has put pressure on the company's financial performance and overall sustainability.

    2. Outdated Store Environment: Many Sears and Kmart stores have outdated interiors and lack a modern shopping experience. The company has failed to invest in store renovations and upgrades, resulting in a less appealing shopping environment for customers. This weakness hinders the company's ability to attract and retain customers, especially in an era of heightened emphasis on experiential retail.

    3. Poor Online Presence: Sears Holdings has lagged behind in developing a strong online presence. The company's e-commerce platform has not been able to effectively compete with online giants like Amazon and Walmart. This weakness limits the company's ability to reach a larger customer base and capitalize on the growing trend of online shopping.


    1. E-commerce Expansion: Despite its current weaknesses in the online space, Sears Holdings can leverage the growing popularity of e-commerce to revitalize its business. By investing in website improvements, streamlining online ordering processes, and enhancing customer experience, the company can tap into the potential of online retail and reach a wider audience.

    2. Strategic Partnerships: Sears Holdings can explore strategic partnerships with other retailers or e-commerce players to enhance its product offerings and expand its customer base. Collaborations with popular brands or online platforms can help Sears Holdings attract new customers and drive sales. By leveraging the strengths and capabilities of its partners, the company can strengthen its position in the market.

    3. Focus on Service Offerings: Sears Holdings can differentiate itself by placing a greater emphasis on its service offerings. By providing exceptional customer service, offering specialized repair and installation services, and leveraging its expertise in home appliances and tools, the company can attract customers who value quality service and expertise.


    1. Intense Competition: Sears Holdings operates in a highly competitive retail landscape. The company faces fierce competition from both traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce giants. The intense competition puts pressure on pricing, margins, and customer loyalty, making it challenging for Sears Holdings to maintain its market share.

    2. Changing Consumer Behavior: The shift in consumer behavior towards online shopping and preference for convenience poses a significant threat to Sears Holdings. The company's outdated store environment and limited online presence make it less appealing to tech-savvy consumers who seek seamless shopping experiences. Failure to adapt to changing consumer preferences could further erode the company's market position.

    3. Financial Instability: Sears Holdings has faced financial struggles in recent years, with declining sales and mounting debt. The company's financial instability poses a threat to its long-term survival. If the company is unable to address its financial challenges and secure sustainable sources of funding, it may face bankruptcy or forced closures, jeopardizing its future in the retail industry.

    Key Takeaways

    • Sears Holdings is owned by Transform Holdco LLC, an entity created by ESL Investments, a hedge fund headed by Eddie Lampert.
    • The mission statement of Sears Holdings is to become the preferred and trusted destination for both shoppers and vendors. They aim to provide quality products and services at affordable prices.
    • Sears Holdings makes money through various channels including retail sales, e-commerce, and services such as home appliance repairs and installation.
    • The Business Model Canvas of Sears Holdings encompasses key elements such as customer segments, value proposition, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partners, and cost structure.
    • Competitors of Sears Holdings include other department stores like Macy's, JCPenney, and Kohl's, as well as online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.
    • In terms of SWOT analysis, Sears Holdings' strengths include a strong brand and a wide range of products, while their weaknesses include financial struggles and outdated store formats. Opportunities for growth lie in e-commerce and partnerships, while threats include intense competition and changing consumer preferences.


    In conclusion, Sears Holdings is owned by its shareholders, with the largest stake held by Edward Lampert. The mission statement of Sears Holdings is to be the preferred destination for home products and services, providing value and convenience to customers. The company generates revenue through various channels such as retail sales, online sales, and services offered through its subsidiaries. By analyzing the Sears Holdings Business Model Canvas, it becomes evident that the company focuses on customer relationships, key activities, key resources, and cost structure to ensure profitability. Despite its long-established presence in the market, Sears Holdings faces tough competition from companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot. Conducting a SWOT analysis reveals the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by Sears Holdings, highlighting the need for strategic decisions and adaptation to changing market dynamics. Overall, the future success of Sears Holdings depends on its ability to leverage its strengths, address weaknesses, seize opportunities, and overcome threats in a rapidly evolving retail landscape.

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