Fountainhead, is a motor yacht built in 2011 by Feadship for American billionaire Eddie Lampert. Photo: SuperYachtFan.com
More than a decade ago, hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert touted his merger of Kmart and Sears by saying it would lay the groundwork for a grand revival of the struggling retailers. Sears, an iconic department store chain launched in the late 19th century, employed more than 200,000 workers, operated almost 900 stores and generated annual revenue of $31 billion.
Jump forward to 2018, and Lampert’s plans have led Sears not to a turnaround, but. The store’s headcount has been slashed to 90,000, less than half of what it was when Lampert bought Sears in 2004 and combined it with Kmart. Sears’ annual revenue has dwindled to $16.7 billion after store closures and shopper defections to rivals such as Target and Walmart. The company has also spun off or sold some its major brands, including Land’s End and Craftsman.
Lampert, 56, built his billion-dollar fortune through savvy investments in companies such as AutoZone. His love of investing was sparked by his grandmother, who was a fan of the investment television show “Wall Street Week,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
After attending Yale (where U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin was a roommate), Lampert worked at Goldman Sachs in the 1980s. He then started his own investment fund, which he named ESL, after his initials. Investors included moguls such as Dell Computer founder Michael Dell and media mogul David Geffen. In his early years, his fund generated average returns of 25 percent per year, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Lampert, founder and CEO of private hedge fund ESL Investments, will step down as CEO after leading the company into bankruptcy.
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Meet the billionaire investor who led Sears into bankruptcy