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Sears Essentials identifies up to 10 potential locations in P.R.

Conversion expected next spring

BY TAINA ROSA of Caribbean Business

June 10, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Sears Essentials, the new concept arising from the $11 billion Sears / Kmart merger, is sure to open in Puerto Rico next year. Already, eight to 10 Kmart locations have been identified, according to Ted Wells, president of Sears Holding Co. in Puerto Rico, who added that the stores’ conversion to the new concept probably will take place in spring 2006.

This new midsize, off-mall (not located on a mall’s premises) store format, is a result of the acquisition of 50 Kmart and six Wal-Mart stores finalized in the third quarter of 2004. It will leverage Kmart's experience, knowledge, infrastructure, and scale, particularly in categories such as pantry, health and beauty, household goods, and pharmacy. Sears Essentials also will leverage Sears' strengths, including expertise in appliances, lawn and garden, tools and apparel, and strong brands.

"The locations that have been identified as good for Sears Essentials are off-mall Kmart stores that aren’t near other Sears or Kmart stores. We don’t want Sears Essentials to interfere with Sears or Kmart; we want it to enhance them. Sears Essentials is the best of Sears and Kmart," Wells explained. He couldn’t disclose the locations that have been identified.

Sears Holdings has announced that stateside it will open the first 25 Sears Essentials locations this spring from among 56 stores it purchased last year, almost all of them coming from Kmart. Already open are five Sears Essentials stores: St. Lucie West and Stuart in Florida; Clinton, Md.; Warrenton, Va.; and Nashua, N.H. Up to 100 Sears Essentials will open this year, with 400 planned to open by 2007.

Meanwhile, Kmart and Sears stores currently open are expected to continue operating as they do now, said Wells, adding that Puerto Rico is a great market for both brands.

Currently, Sears operates 10 stores in Puerto Rico–with $400 million in gross sales for 2003–and Kmart has 21, with an estimated $350 million in gross sales for 2003. Both retailers combined employ more than 4,000 locals, as reported in the 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS Book of Lists.

Sears Holdings Corp. is the third-largest retailer in the U.S., with approximately $55 billion in annual revenue and about 3,800 full-line and specialty retail stores in the U.S. and Canada. Sears Holdings is expected to be the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, home electronics, and automotive repair and maintenance.

Key proprietary brands are expected to include Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard, and a broad apparel offering, including such well-known labels as Lands' End, Jaclyn Smith, and Joe Boxer, as well as the Apostrophe and Covington brands. Sears Essentials also is expected to have Martha Stewart Everyday products, which are offered exclusively in the U.S. by Kmart and in Canada by Sears Canada.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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