Sears plans to open three stores in May in an attempt to reclaim shoppers after closing hundreds of locations in recent years.
The new stores, called Sears Home & Life, will be a fraction of the size of a typical Sears department store and sell only so-called hardline goods—appliances, tools, mattresses and lawn and garden equipment.
“This is part of an overall strategy to revitalize Sears,” said Peter Boutros, chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart. “We want to be the go-to destination for appliances, mattresses, repairs and maintenance of all your household needs.”
Located in Anchorage, Alaska, Lafayette, La., and Overland Park, Kan., the stores will range in size from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet. By contrast, a typical Sears store, which also sells apparel, home furnishings, electronics and a range of other items, averages about 150,000 square feet. Sears plans to convert three smaller stores it opened in 2017 to the new format.
Sears Holdings Corp., which owned Sears and Kmart, filed for bankruptcy protection in October and closed hundreds of stores. It agreed to sell its remaining stores, and other assets to a new company controlled by Edward Lampert, the hedge-fund manager and former Sears chief executive.
The new company, tentatively named Transform Holdco, will need to reassure shoppers that the 220 remaining Sears and 205 Kmart locations are here to stay.
Mr. Boutros said the company plans to get that message out with television, digital and social advertising campaigns that will launch next month and by promoting its loyalty program.
“We’ve got to instill confidence in customers that Sears and Kmart are here and open for business for the long term,” he said.
Sears hardlines such as tools and appliances have long outsold “softlines” such as apparel and home décor. In the past, Sears executives had considered opening smaller stores focusing on the tools, appliances and other hard goods that the chain was known for.
But they came to the conclusion that without apparel and other frequently purchased items, shoppers wouldn’t visit the stores enough to make them economically viable. Most people buy a major appliance once a decade.
One way the new Home & Life stores hope to skirt that problem is with a kiosk where shoppers can order online from the wide array of products sold by Sears and Kmart. The stores will also have a service desk where customers can confer with technicians about maintenance and repair issues and book house calls.
Separately, Sears plans to expand its DieHard brand into new categories such as lawn and garden and camping equipment. And it is expanding its relationship with Amazon.com Inc. for the Kenmore brand, which will now be available for Amazon’s Dash service allowing shoppers to automatically reorder products. Mr. Boutros said Sears is also considering selling Kenmore products in other locations besides Sears and Amazon.
Write to Suzanne Kapner at [email protected]
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