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After bankruptcy, Sears announces plan to open new stores



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Following its bankruptcy filing in October and hundreds of store closings in recent years, Sears announced Thursday its plans to open three new concept stores next month.

The company hopes the smaller Sears Home & Life stores will recapture a portion of the market where it had its greatest successes.

"The exciting new Sears Home & Life stores will carry power categories where Sears has a real strength: Appliances, mattresses and our home services business," Peter Boutros, chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart and president of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands, said in a news release.

The stores are set to open in May in Anchorage, Alaska; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Overland Park, Kansas.

What's the story?

Boutros told the Wall Street Journal that the former retail giant hopes to become the place for hardline goods such as tools and appliances.

"This is part of an overall strategy to revitalize Sears," Boutros said. "We want to be the go-to destination for appliances, mattresses, repairs, and maintenance of all your household needs."

The average footprint of Sears stores that carry goods such as clothing, home furnishings, and other products, run about 150,000 square feet, the Journal reported. The much smaller new stores will be a fraction of the size at 10,000 to 15,000 square feet.

"We are here to serve these communities and this is part of our strategy to maintain a presence in markets where we have right-sized our footprint. Sears Home & Life supports our strategic plan to become a stronger, more profitable business and these test stores will enable us to learn and improve as we move forward," Boutros added.

Sears said it also plans to convert three of its smaller current stores to the new concept.

What about the bankruptcy?

In October, Sears Holding Corp., which owned Sears and Kmart, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed more than 140 stores at the end of 2018.

In February, ESL Investments CEO hedge-fund manager Edward S. Lampert completed the acquisition of the Sears Holding Corp. for about $5.2 billion, according to a news release.

The new Sears company, named Transform Holdco LLC, owns 223 Sears stores and 202 Kmart stores, along with other assets including Kenmore, DieHard, Craftsman, Sears Home Services, Sears Auto Centers, and Innovel brands.

Boutros told the Journal that it would soon launch its new digital, social, and television ad campaign to help promote customer confidence.

"We've got to instill confidence in customers that Sears and Kmart are here and open for business for the long term," he said.

What else?

The Sears Home & Life stores will feature kiosks that allow shoppers to order a vast array of softline products sold by Sears and Kmart.

In-store technicians will assist customers with repairs, parts, and accessories for appliances, along with home improvement experts who can help with products including windows, roofing, kitchen cabinets, among others.

It's also keeping its customer reward program.

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