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Arthur C. Martinez: 1939—: Businessman

Found The Softer Side Of Sears

The most important aspect of Martinez's restructuring plan was returning the company's attention to the customer. Martinez analyzed data about Sears' customers and their lifestyles. While Sears had traditionally been considered a man's store that sold tools, car batteries, and lawn mowers, Martinez discovered that most of Sears' customers were actually women. "If women were making all of those buying decisions, if they had indeed become the chief financial officers of the American family, why were we continuing to ignore their needs, their desires, and their dreams? My own suspicion was that we just didn't know how to talk to them and had not created a store that was warming or at all intriguing for them," Martinez explained in his autobiography. In response to this revelation, Martinez hired the advertising firm of Young and Rubicam to target women as Sears' customers. They developed the slogan "the softer side of Sears" and the accompanying advertisements to appeal to female customers.

Martinez's strategies for restructuring Sears were successful. From 1992 to 1995 Sears sales increased 13 percent and earnings nearly tripled. "Sears' downsizing caused a lot of pain and suffering, but the $35 billion retailer is on firmer footing today," wrote Scott McMurray of U.S. News & World Report in May of 1996. Martinez was credited for Sears' turnaround and he became CEO of Sears, Roebuck, and Co. in 1995 after Ed Brennan retired.

In 1996 Martinez was given the CEO of the Year Award by Financial World magazine. While Martinez enjoyed his successes at Sears, he also recognized that the restructuring job was not over yet. "Our situation is not unlike building the first half of a bridge," Martinez explained to Barry L. Rupp of Financial World in April of 1996. "When you're over the deepest part of the river, it's no time to take momentum for granted." Martinez planned to turn Sears into a consumer-brands and services company. He wanted to focus on Sears name brands, such as Craftsman, Kenmore, and Die Hard. He also initiated a move away from big malls to building smaller Sears specialty stores. In 1997 he introduced Sears Home Central as a single source for all household services, such as appliance repairs and pest control.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Al Loving Biography - Loved Painting from Early Age to Alice McGill Biography - PersonalArthur C. Martinez: 1939—: Businessman Biography - Learned Value Of Money From Parents, Gained Corporate Experience, Revamped Sears, Found The Softer Side Of Sears