Kmart's Ten Deadly Sins: How Incompetence Tainted an American Icon

Overview

News that discount giant Kmart was filing for bankruptcy in early 2002 sent shockwaves through the retail community. How could a brand as widely recognized and firmly fixed in our cultural lexicon be teetering on the brink of extinction? Depending on who you talk to, Kmart’s fall from grace can be attributed to any number of factors. In the first in-depth examination of Kmart, author Marcia Layton Turner reveals the real reason behind Kmart’s troubles–bad management–and discusses how the large personalities and ...

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Overview

News that discount giant Kmart was filing for bankruptcy in early 2002 sent shockwaves through the retail community. How could a brand as widely recognized and firmly fixed in our cultural lexicon be teetering on the brink of extinction? Depending on who you talk to, Kmart’s fall from grace can be attributed to any number of factors. In the first in-depth examination of Kmart, author Marcia Layton Turner reveals the real reason behind Kmart’s troubles–bad management–and discusses how the large personalities and even larger dreams of Kmart’s misguided leaders played a significant role in transforming this once profitable retail titan into a bankrupt behemoth.

Even though Kmart has emerged from bankruptcy, the truth is that the company has made a number of bad decisions throughout its forty-year history–some seemed like good decisions at the time, while others were obviously off base. But what really hurt Kmart is the fact that most of these decisions were made by rogue managers who shirked their duty to shareholders and company.

Kmart’s Ten Deadly Sins spins an intriguing tale of the missteps and miscalculations of a retail giant which once had the industry in the palm of its hand, and foolishly let it all slip away. Interviews with financial analysts, former employees, and industry observers, coupled with in-depth research of SEC filings, news reports, and background data, paints a clear picture of exactly how Kmart management’s thinking emerged as well as what went on behind the scenes–and why.

Weaving corporate history with financial analysis and expert commentary, this engaging book identifies and examines the ten management mistakes, which ultimately brought Kmart to its knees.

You’ll learn how a combination of . . .

  • Brand mismanagement
  • Lack of customer knowledge
  • Underestimating the competition
  • Lousy locations
  • Ignoring store appearance
  • Technology aversion
  • Supply chain disconnect
  • Loss of focus
  • Changing strategies frequently
  • Repeating the same mistakes

. . . eventually ended Kmart’s retail reign.

Kmart’s Ten Deadly Sins digs deep to uncover the real reason behind Kmart’s undoing, and will leave you with a better sense of the potential for its future. Can Kmart’s management sins be forgiven? Maybe, but only time will tell.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Kmart was Wal-Mart before there was a Wal-Mart.
Originally a chain of retail stores along the lines of F.W. Woolworth's "five and dime" outlets, the former Kresge's evolved into the larger Kmart in 1962, with 18 "super-stores." Wal-Mart began the same year with a single rural Arkansas location.
Kmart cruised along nicely for the first 25 years or so, but by the end of the 1970s profits began to dip, coincidental to Wal-Mart's ascendance.
Business journalist Marcia Layton Turner offers a remarkable, no-nonsense examination of Kmart's fall. Her carefully documented tale relies on reporting from the trade and general press, amplified by testimony and commentary from a number of expert witnesses. It's a grim story; reading it is somewhat akin to watching a train going off a mountain, but the tragedy of Kmart is a tale of human incompetence, ignorance, greed and hubris.
Here, according to Turner, are Kmart's 10 fatal mistakes: 1. Brand mismanagement; 2. Not knowing its customers; 3. Underestimating Wal-Mart; 4. Lousy locations; 5. Ignoring store appearance; 6. Technology aversion; 7. Supply chain disconnect; 8. Loss of focus; 9. Strategy du jour; 10. Repeating the same mistakes.
Squeezed by thrifty and technologically savvy Wal-Mart on one side, and trendy, more fashion forward Target on the other, one wonders if the once-mighty Kmart still has a prayer. Hard to say, but if the chain's immediate history of monumental mismanagement offers any clues, it's just a matter of time before Kmart flat-lines — barring a miracle. (The Miami Herald (circ: 327,000), Sept. 29, 2003)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471435938
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/4/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 616,018
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

MARCIA LAYTON TURNER is the bestselling author of The Unofficial Guide to Starting a Small Business. Writing for and about business for many years, Turner has covered small businesses, middle market companies, and major corporations. She has written for several top magazines and Web sites, including Business 2.0 and Office.com, and was the small business "guru" for iVillage.com’s AboutWork site and Macmillan’s Web community. With an MBA in corporate strategy and marketing from the University of Michigan, Turner spent several years with Eastman Kodak Company in marketing and marketing communications before starting her own marketing consulting firm, which she currently manages. Through her work as a consultant, she has been profiled or quoted as a marketing and start-up expert in numerous publications. She is also a frequent speaker on business management and marketing topics, delivering presentations to local, regional, and national audiences.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements.

Preface.

Discount Retail Timeline.

Introduction.

Chapter 1. Brand Mismanagement.

Chapter 2. Not Knowing Its Customers.

Chapter 3. Underestimating Wal-Mart.

Chapter 4. Lousy Locations.

Chapter 5. Ignoring Store Appearance.

Chapter 6. Technology Aversion.

Chapter 7. Supply Chain Disconnect.

Chapter 8. Loss of Focus.

Chapter 9. Strategy du jour.

Chapter 10. Repeating the Same Mistakes.

Conclusion.

Bibliography.

Index.

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