Strategy: Sears’ reclusive CEO explains why he rarely visits the office — and instead lives at his sprawling $38 million estate that’s 1,400 miles away (SHLD)

Strategy: Sears' reclusive CEO explains why he rarely visits the office — and instead lives at his sprawling $38 million estate that's 1,400 miles away (SHLD)eddie lampert finance home

Critics — including some former Sears executives — have blasted CEO Eddie Lampert for rarely visiting Sears' headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

  • Sears CEO Eddie Lampert lives at a $38 million estate in Florida and is rarely seen at Sears' Illinois headquarters, only visiting about once a year.
  • In a new interview, Lampert addressed critics of his long-distance management style.
  • "There are cultures where people work from home, and they still get things done," he told Vanity Fair. "The ability to trust people, the ability to empower people, that's the model."
  • Lampert also owns a $26 million property in Connecticut, a $14.5 million home in Colorado, and a 288-foot yacht.

Sears CEO Eddie Lampert has opened up in a rare interview about his decision to manage the embattled retailer from afar.

Critics — including some former Sears executives — have blasted Lampert for rarely visiting Sears' headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

Instead, Lampert prefers to stay at his $38 million estate on Indian Creek Island, off the coast of Miami, and communicate with employees primarily through teleconference meetings. He only visits Sears' headquarters about once a year for the annual shareholder meeting.

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In response to his critics, Lampert told Vanity Fair that he believes in empowering his management team.

"There are cultures where people work from home, and they still get things done," he said. "The ability to trust people, the ability to empower people, that's the model."

The interview marks the first time that Lampert, who rarely talks to the press, has publicly addressed critics of his long-distance management style.

While the Indian Creek estate is Lampert's primary home, he also owns a $26 million property in Greenwich, Connecticut, a $14.5 million home in Aspen, Colorado, and a 288-foot yacht, which he named The Fountainhead.

Sears, which also owns Kmart, has been selling off brands and real estate to stay afloat amid years of falling sales. The company's sales have dropped from $53 billion in 2006 to $16.7 billion in 2017.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, dropped 15.6% during the fourth quarter, including a 12% drop at Kmart and an 18% drop at Sears.

Lampert has been criticized for not investing enough in Sears and Kmart stores.

In the Vanity Fair interview, Lampert said he chose to invest in Sears' online business over its stores because he believed the company had a better chance of competing with retailers like Nordstrom and Saks online than in stores.

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"I could have a better website than Nordstrom's. I could have a better website than Bloomingdale's," he said. "In other words, I don't need to invest in fixtures, but I do need to invest in the features and the experiences."

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