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Sears Tests Format

CINCINNATI — While Wards has retrofitted nearly a third of its stores, arch rival Sears is still in the prototype stage of its own redesign plans.

Earlier this month the No. 1 majap merchant opened 13 “laboratory test” remodels here and in Indianapolis and Milwaukee that focus on its five “leadership” categories: white goods, brown goods, tools, home fashions and kids’ apparel.

Like Wards’ new stores, the Sears units feature a racetrack format, open layout, brighter lighting, wider aisles, upscale fixturing, bold signage and shopping carts.

“We weren’t after a tweak, but a significant renovation,” said Barbara Pizzella, a senior director for strategic initiatives. The store has “a very different feel with the lack of walls and the openness. We wanted to be one big store instead of different parts.”

Sears said there are no plans at present for a major rollout of the new format.