Sears and Kmart are making the most of their new leases on life with a multi-tiered push to mark their re-emergence from bankruptcy.
Now part of an appreciably leaner private business — Transform Holdco LLC, an affiliate of owner Eddie Lampert’s ESL Investments hedge fund, with 220 Sears and 205 Kmart stores — the chains are looking to leverage their heritage and iconic brands to make a fresh go of it post reorganization.
“We came out of bankruptcy and hit the ground running,” said Peter Boutros, chief brand officer of Sears and Kmart, and president of the company’s private-label Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands. “It’s a real opportunity to revitalize Kmart and Sears.”
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First up is new brand messaging that plays up Sears’ 125-year place in Americans’ lives under the theme “Making moments that matter,” and Kmart’s role as a neighborhood general store using the tagline “Love where you live.” Both will be emphasized via in-store signage, TV, circulars, social media and other online communication, Boutros told TWICE.
Next, the new company has settled upon a preferred small-store format that embraces its appliance and mattress prototypes and adds a healthy dose of home services. Renamed Sears Home & Life, the specialty stores will range from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet and feature a dedicated services section where customers can seek advice on maintenance and schedule in-home repairs. The stores will also have an assisted Search Bar kiosk, where shoppers can access and order Sears’ complete assortment, and select locations may also offer lawn and garden products.
The first three Home & Life stores will formally open Memorial Day weekend in Anchorage, Alaska, Lafayette, La., and Overland Park, Kan., and existing Sears specialty stores will convert to the new format as a running change.
Boutros has also forged new licensing agreements for its Kenmore appliance brand, which continues its distribution through Amazon and will now grace a floorcare line by Cleva and an extensive cookware and kitchen accessories collection by Gibson Overseas.
Sears will also be announcing licensing programs for DieHard next week that will extend the badge beyond its automotive roots, Boutros said.
Also on deck: a greater degree of personalization for Sears’ “Shop Your Way” loyalty program; forthcoming refreshes of the in-store and online experience; and ongoing support of the company’s long-standing charity causes, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Toys For Tots, Heroes at Home, and The Salvation Army.
Boutros added that the company is now more nimble and agile thanks to its right-sized cost structure, smaller retail footprint and upbeat workforce. “We’re feeling good about the future and great about our plans for it,” he said.