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Sears Flexes Its Majap Muscles At K/BIS

5/05/2009 12:24:00 PM Eastern

Atlanta — Sears, the sleeping appliance giant, has apparently awoken from its slumber.

Under a revitalized team led by home appliances president Doug Moore and VP/general merchandise manager

Sears appliance president Doug Moore takes on Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning in a charity football toss, using the inside of a Kenmore washer as the target.

Steve Light, the company has begun to reverse seven years of quarterly market share declines in majaps and reclaim its role as an industry leader.

That confidence was evident here at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) this past weekend, where Sears grabbed center stage with performances by Blue Man Group, appearances by Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and his family, and a vendor panel featuring executives from Bosch, Electrolux, Samsung and of course Sears.

The retailer’s K/BIS booth itself resembled a mini-trade show, where the aforementioned brands maintained separate display areas in lieu of their own space on the show floor, along with vignettes by GE and Kenmore.

Why all the hoopla?

“We’re the market leader, so we’re taking a leadership position,” explained Moore, who is eager to capitalize on Sears’ four consecutive quarters of appliance growth. Fueling those share gains, said VP/chief marketing officer Kevin Brown, are a host of initiatives including:

  • real-time competitive price checks via in-store computer terminals;

  • flexible financing;

  • a slew of clever TV commercials featuring Sears’ “Blue Appliance Crew”;

  • an emphasis on Energy Star-rated models;

  • a department refresh featuring new signage;

  • the industry’s largest brand assortment;

  • the use of social-networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and the company’s own;

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  • aggressive price promotions ranging from 10 percent to as much as 50 percent-off goods.

While others deem the sales disruptive, Brown insists the promotions are very profitable for Sears and don’t constitute a price war. “We’re not buying sales,” he said. “We’re not doing stupid things for our business or the industry. We need this industry to be healthy.”

Another not-so-secret weapon is sister chain Kmart, which currently carries appliances in 280 locations but has the potential to move substantially more volume. “We have 1,410 doors and can turn on Kmart tomorrow,” Brown said.

The initiatives are also intended to position Sears for the eventual economic recovery. “We’re going to keep all our irons in the fire,” said Moore. “Making Sears a differentiated experience is critical for our future.”

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