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Sears Steers PC Business To Compaq

Sears said it is dropping Hewlett-Packard and eMachine PCs to make Compaq its exclusive Windows-based computer supplier.

Compaq, which currently shares shelf space with H-P and eMachine, will provide the retailer with Sears-specific models and build-to-order options beginning this June. The rollout is timed to the back-to-school market.

Sears, the nation’s eighth-largest PC retailer according to TWICE’s Computer Product Retail Registry, will continue to carry Apple’s I-Mac and Sony laptops.

In other Sears news, the merchant reconfirmed plans to make its stores more uniform and shopper-friendly by clearing up product clutter, improving sight lines, widening aisles and adding shopping carts. Thirteen Midwestern stores are first up for the redesign, which will eventually be rolled out to all 850 full-line locations.

The Compaq announcement dovetailed with news that the PC maker has extended its two-year-old partnership with Tandy, which made it RadioShack’s exclusive PC brand through February 2001. The new agreement, which continues the in-store shop program but places added emphasis on Internet access, carries the alliance through the end of 2004.

The parties said they extended their alliance well in advance of its expiration due to better than anticipated sales, a working and strategic relationship that “exceeded expectations,” and their shared focus on Internet usage.