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Friday, June 3, 2011

Continued Failures: Sears Essentials

First, Sears Holdings is continuing to outsource brand strengths such as having franchise Sears Auto Centers and selling Craftsman tools at ACE hardware stores, with recent news that the DieHard battery brand will now be carried at many other places, including competitors such as the Home Depot. 
From the real estate angle, by sub-leasing space, Sears may be generating short-term revenue (like a Whole Foods store taking over part of a Sears) but it isn't really generating any brand traction or long-term growth. 
So what is Sears left with? Well, the initial concept that combining Kmart and Sears would lead to improved synergisms (corporate speak!) basically has fallen flat. The few Sears Grands (aka wannabe Wal-Mart Supercenters) that were concept stores before the merger never really took off after the merger, and the haphazard concept of Sears Essentials basically seemed like slapping the Sears name (and ok, adding some better clothing and appliance brands than at a Kmart) on aging 25 year old Kmart stores without that much of an improvement in the shopping experience - no surprise it didn't work out that great.
Several Sears Essentials have already been converted back to Kmarts or closed entirely, and the trend continues with six more stores being converted back to Kmart, from these couple recent news sources:

Lakeland, FL Sears/Kmart photo by Ernst Peters - The Ledger
The Sears Essentials store at 4717 South Florida Ave., which converted from a Kmart in 2005, will revert to its original banner in August, said spokeswoman Kim Freely.
"It's just something our customers told us they wanted," Freely told The Ledger. "We're listening to what our customers have stated they prefer."
Freely said the store will close temporarily Aug. 4 through Aug. 7 for the conversion, with a soft opening planned for Aug. 8. The store has already begun liquidating some items to make room for new inventory, she said.

At least this 69 thousand square foot Kmart turned Sears Essential turned back into Kmart in Bethlehem Township PA is getting an "updated" Kmart logo instead of the 1990's BIG-K style signs. Although sadly probably not much else will be updated...
Express-Times photo by Chris Post
3843 Nazareth PikeBethlehemPA 18020


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