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Sears Doubles Flat Panel SKUs

Chicago – Sears is doubling its assortment of flat panel displays to 22 models to establish itself as the leading retail destination for plasma and LCD TVs. The rollout, which will be completed in August, is an expansion of the company’s Thin-TV shop concept launched in 650 stores last September (see TWICE, Sept. 2, 2002, p. 1). According to a Sears spokesman, the category has “resonated well with customers,” encouraging the mass merchant to pursue its strategy of becoming “the dominant player in plasma and LCD.” “It’s the fastest growing segment of the CE business,” the spokesperson said, “and has such stopping power. As prices have dropped 50 percent over the last year, we want to be thought of as the place where you go for these products.” Sears is doubling the number of LCDs and plasma display panels (PDPs) to 14 and eight, respectively. The LCDs, bearing brands by Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sylvania, Sony, TechView and Toshiba, will range in size from 13 inches to 30 inches, with price points starting at $399. The PDPs will range from 32 inches to 50 inches in size, and from $2,999 to $9,999 in price. Joining Sears’ initial plasma suppliers Hitachi, Panasonic and Samsung in the expansion are Philips, Pioneer, Sony, TechView and Toshiba. Most of the models will be available next month in Sears’ 650 largest full-line stores, while the balance of 220 smaller locations will carry at least one plasma and LCD pair. Sears is stacking the SKUs on two tiers of shelving to accommodate the broadened assortment, and all models will be shown with home theater systems playing HD programming provided by Premier Retail Network (PRN). Sears contracted with an authorized national A/V service last year to provide installation and set-up services.