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Sears Set To Launch New Store Format

Sears will roll out a new midsize store format this spring that will accommodate its 56 recently acquired Kmart and Wal-Mart locations and prepare the way for its coming consolidation with Kmart.

The new concept, dubbed Sears Essentials, is a scaled down version of Sears Grand, the company’s larger full-line, off-mall format, which sells CE; majaps; tools; soft lines; and fast-turn convenience items like health and beauty, food, pet supplies, household products and toys. The Sears Essential stores are also expected to offer pharmacy, considered to be one of Kmart’s category strengths.

Sears envisions Essentials as a “one-stop shopping destination for home and family needs” that offers “the best of both” Sears — with its big-ticket destination shopping categories — and Kmart, whose merchandising expertise is in smaller, convenience-type goods. The stores will provide an indication of the direction that the new corporate entity will take after the merger is completed next month, and, say industry observers, may also augur the end of the Kmart nameplate.

The single-level stores will range between 80,000 and 100,000 square feet in size, compared to Sears’ typical 150,000-square-foot, two-story footprint, and will feature a racetrack design, exit-area checkout and a centralized customer service center. The first 25 units will be converted this spring in 12 states including Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.

Sears purchased the 50 Kmart units and six Wal-Mart locations last year.