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Sears Mulling CE/Majaps Stores

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears said it is studying plans to build freestanding consumer electronics and major appliance stores.

Outgoing chairman and CEO Arthur Martinez said the specialty stores would range in size from 12,000 to 15,000 square feet, and suggested that they’d be aimed largely at Best Buy and Home Depot.

Speaking at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday, Martinez told reporters that “We have strong franchises in those businesses and we don’t want to be outlet-poor and distribution-poor.”

He added that the new format would increase Sears’ penetration in markets not currently served by its full-line urban locations or dealer-owned rural stores.

Sears is the No. 1 white goods merchant according to the TWICE Major Appliance Retail Registry, but sixth-ranked Home Depot has been turning up the heat with an aggressive new majap strategy. Sears faces even stiffer competition on the electronics side, where it ranks sixth on TWICE’s Top 100 CE Registry, some $6 billion shy of No. 1 retailer Best Buy.

Sears has successfully experimented with various store formats, including its expanding Great Indoors home furnishings specialty chain. Circuit City, the No. 2 seller of brown and white goods, announced plans earlier this year to test freestanding appliance stores in Florida and Virginia.