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Arthur C. Martinez: 1939—: Businessman

Faced More Challenges Before Retirement

The turnaround of Sears was not a straight road to success. Along the way the company suffered some financial setbacks. However, by the end of the 1990s, it was clear that Sears was better off than it had been at the beginning of the decade. In 1998 and 1999 the company faced a new round of challenges as apparel sales declined. The company also experienced problems with credit card delinquencies, and more employees were laid off. Martinez had a new strategy to turn sales around. Recognizing the growing business of internet shopping, the company launched Sears.com to meet the needs of a new type of customer. Sears also opened up the Great Indoors chain, offering upscale home decor and remodeling.

In 2000 Martinez announced his plans to retire from Sears. Although he enjoyed his work at Sears and the company still needed to work on staying competitive and profitable, Martinez wanted to retire at the age of 60 so that he could enjoy his retirement while he was still in good health and so he could spend time with his grandchildren. Martinez was replaced by Alan Lacy, president of services at Sears. Since his retirement Martinez has continued to serve on the board of directors of several companies, including Martha Stewart Living and Liz Claiborne.

Martinez spent eight years at Sears overhauling the company's corporate culture, infrastructure, marketing, and merchandising. He redefined the role of the traditional department store for the 1990s and made Sears a profitable company after nearly two decades of decline. When asked about his secret to success by Terry Savage of the Chicago Sun-Times in April of 2001, Martinez explained that "success will not be driven by your board scores and your grade point average coming out of school. They'll be driven by your character and your intensity, and by your willingness and ability to continue to learn."

Selected writings

(With Charles Madigan) The Hard Road to the Softer

Side: Lessons from the Transformation of Sears, Crown Business, 2001.



The Complete Marquis Who's Who, Marquis Who's Who, 2003.


Business and Management Practices, November 4, 2002, p. 10.

Chicago Sun-Times, April 29, 2001.

Financial World, March 25, 1996, p. 48; April 8, 1996, p. 10.

Fortune, October 16, 1995, p. 96; April 28, 1997, p. 106.

Industry Standard, November 22, 1999.

National Home Center News, April 17, 2000, p. 4.

Newsweek, November 1, 1993, p. 42.

Plain Dealer, December 25, 1994, p. 5H.

PR Newswire, March 25, 1999; June 22, 1999;

September 10, 2000; December 7, 2000; January 3, 2001.

Time, December 23, 1996, p. 52.

U.S. News & World Report, May 13, 1996, p. 61.


"Alan Lacy Chosen as Successor to Arthur Martinez at Sears, Roebuck, and Co.," Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Investor Relations, www.corporate-ir.net (May 26, 2003).

"Arthur C. Martinez," Biography Resource Center, www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC (May 14, 2003).

"Remodeling Sears," Cio, www.cio.com/archive/120196/sears.html (May 26, 2003).

Sears, www.sears.com (May 26, 2003).

"Sears Chairman Receives International Quality of Life Award," Auburn University News, www.auburn. edu/administration/univrel/news/archive/12_99 news/12_99martinez.html (May 26, 2003).

—Janet P. Stamatel

Additional topics

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