Lands’ End Helps Sears Close Customer Service Gap with J.C. Penney, Kohl’s

Last Updated Nov 30, 2010 6:56 PM EST J.C. Penney (JCP) beat Nordstrom (JWN) in the National Retail Federation/American Express (AMEX) Customers' Choice Survey but, even though its name didn't appear in the Top 10, Sears did pretty well, too, and in more ways than one. Not only was 10th-ranked Nordstrom outdistanced by J.C. Penney, rated ninth, it was tied by humble Kohl's (KSS). Humble not in the sales sense, as it has done pretty well lately, but in the sense that its stores aren't even patterned after department stores and have as much in common with Target and Walmart as with Nordstrom. As has been noted about the strength of web retailers â€" numbers two through five -- in the study, customers have expressed a preference for convenience and flexibility over old fashion pampering. J.C. Penney lets consumers shop its operations in multiple ways and with different degrees of interaction. Its well-regarded web site lets consumers shop at home in a tradition of direct sales that goes back to its catalogs. The company's stores have limited service, with stocking and checkout occupying more employee time than sitting at counters and selling customers. Yet, service can be had where appropriate, and J.C. Penney has been expanding the presence of Sephora shops in its stores for shoppers who want a little more pampering. J.C. Penney was excited by its survey result, even issuing a press release that credited its performance to CustomerFIRST, an initiative it launched in 2008. The program includes service training that puts a priority on teaching employees to provide an easy, exciting and engaging shopping experience for customers. Engagement is a central issue. J.C. Penney employees may have multiple duties, but the company wants them interacting with customers who want help and not hiding behind duties such as stocking. So, J.C. Penney conducted associate engagement surveys to rate employee interaction. In the aftermath of the NRF/AmEx study, the retailer Continue Reading

Sears closing means Ocean County Mall needs overhaul

TOMS RIVER — Austin Rickmers, a roofer, walked out of Sears at the Ocean County Mall one recent day feeling upset that a store where he bought all of his tools for the past decade was about to close.He always felt confident buying his Craftsman products here, he said, knowing that if they broke, he could return them hassle free."I'm hoping for another store like this," Rickmers, 26, of Lacey, said. "But at a mall, I doubt it."The Ocean County Mall, the linchpin for the region's retail scene for more than 40 years, needs an overhaul to survive in the digital age. The future for regional malls is bleak, and Sears' closing could be a canary in the coal mine, government and business leaders said.It has prompted them to meet with officials from the mall's long-time owner, Simon Property Group, about the developer's plans. While a company spokesman said it was premature to discuss the project and declined interview requests, township officials said they think big changes are in store."We expressed our concern" about the viability of the mall, Toms River Township Planner Dave Roberts said. "They are thinking about it and are doing potential studies of the mall in general."The Ocean County Mall has been owned by Indianapolis-based Simon since 1998. It is about 800,000 square feet and has nearly 100 stores, including four anchors: J.C. Penney, Macy's, Boscov's and Sears. The mall was a decade in the making, but when it opened in July 1976, it was a hit. More than 80,000 customers attended the grand opening of Sears, Roebuck and Co., according to an Asbury Park Press account.The center became a magnet for shoppers and sparked the development of strip malls and big box stores along Route 37 and Hooper Avenue.But the internet age and shifting demographics have changed the landscape, putting pressure on suburban malls nationwide. While Baby Boomers migrated to the suburbs and saw malls as gathering places where they could Continue Reading

Sears closing Toms River store

Sears Holdings Corp. will be closing over 100 more stores, including its store in Toms River, as the struggling department store chain tries to turn around its business.The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company says that includes 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears stores that will be shuttered between early March and early April. The Toms River Sears store at the Ocean County Mall on Hooper Avenue is the only Sears or Kmart in New Jersey slated to close. The company says that closing will come in early April.Liquidation sales will begin as soon as next Friday at the stores. PREVIOUS: Sears to close Manahawkin Kmart A Sears spokesman said Thursday the number of workers affected was not available. The majority of the jobs are part-time positions, Sears said.The move comes in addition to closing about 250 stores announced last year.Sears has been selling off some its real estate and brands as it tries to raise cash.Earlier Thursday, Macy’s Inc. announced it was closing 11 stores early this year. Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Continue Reading

Is your local Kmart or Sears closing?

Sears Holdings is closing 103 Sears and Kmart stores this spring, as it continues to deal with declining sales.Here's the complete list:1 Kmart Plaza/State Hwy. 89, Cabot, Ark., early April750 W. Deuce Of Clubs, Show Low, Ariz., early April More: 100+ Kmart, Sears stores to close this spring More: Sears bought few national TV ads during the holiday season, data show More: Analysis: Bitter cold, storms will hit retail sales hard, particularly at troubled stores 5900 Old Seward Hwy. Anchorage, Alaska, early April (Sears Auto Center, late January)  Continue Reading

Sears closing 103 more stores, four in Texas

Sears continues to close stores. The struggling retailer told employees on Thursday that 64 Kmarts and 39 Sears stores will be closing sometime between early March and early April. One Kmart in the batch is located in Portland, Texas. Three of the Sears stores are in Texas, one each in Austin on I-35, in Houston on Highway 6 and in Midland on North Midkiff Road. Last year, Sears closed at Valley View Center which is in the process of being torn down. Sears now has 11 department stores in Dallas-Fort Worth. The Sears store at Richardson Square was sold last year and isn't closing, but has a short-term lease. Twitter: @MariaHalkias Continue Reading

Sears closing 150 stores and selling Craftsman tool brand

After controlling the Craftsman name for 90 years, troubled department store operator Sears said it will sell the famous tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc. Stanley, which makes and sells tools under the DeWalt and Black & Decker names, wants to grow the Craftsman brand by selling its products in more stores outside of Sears. Today, only 10% of Craftsman products are sold in other stores. Sears said it will continue to sell Craftsman, including at its Kmart and Sears Hometown stores. The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company first took control of Craftsman in 1927 when it bought the trademark for $500. Sears has struggled, losing money for years as its revenue fell. The company also announced plans Thursday to close 150 stores, about 10% of its total 1,500 locations. And last week, the company said it received a credit facility for up to $500 million to provide it with cash as it sells assets. Shares of Sears Holdings Corp., which are down 45% in the last 12 months, rose 6% to $10.94 in midday trading Thursday. Stanley will pay Sears about $900 million for Craftsman, which includes $525 million when the deal closes this year, $250 million after three years and a percentage of sales for 15 years. After 15 years, Sears will start paying Stanley 3% of the Craftsman sales it makes. Shares of Stanley, based in New Britain, Connecticut, rose 1.4% to $117.90. Stanley said it plans to hire more workers and open a new U.S. plant to make more Craftsman products, but didn't provide details. Continue Reading

Sears closes longtime Bronx store

Bronx's longtime Sears store is no longer in fashion. The one-time retail giant is closing its Fordham Road location, which has been selling everything from clothes to appliances to Bronxites since 1981. The department store will begin its liquidation sale on Sept. 25 with plans to shutter by the end of November, officials said. Its 91 employees eligible for severance will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores, a Sears spokesman said. People hate when anchor stores leave, but there are reasons other than that specific store is not doing well. “Store closures are part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” the spokesman said in a statement. In 2007, Sears reduced the size of its store at 400 E. Fordham Road after major renovations to the building opened doors for a Best Buy and a Walgreens. The property, renamed Fordham Place, sold last year for $133.9 million to Retail Properties of America, a source said.The company will maintain its presence in the borough by keeping its auto repair center on Third Ave. open. The beloved seven-story tower on Fordham Road was known as the “Sears Building” to locals because the company’s massive logo hovered above the roof for more than three decades. “People love Sears and what they have to offer,” Fordham Road Business Improvement District executive director Wilma Alonso said. "People hate when anchor stores leave, but there are reasons other than that specific store is not doing well." Alonso hopes another national chain will take Sears’ space on the blossoming shopping corridor. “This is an opportunity to redevelop,” Alonso said. “It’s sad they’re leaving, but it will be a positive thing in the long run.” Continue Reading

Sears closes, set for demolition

After nearly 40 years as part of the fabric of Fort Collins, Sears has closed its store at Foothills Mall.Within the next few weeks, interior mall access to Sears will be closed so the building can be razed as part of Alberta Development Partners' $313 million redevelopment of the property, according to city officials. Temporary bathrooms near the mall's entrance are now open so the old bathrooms near Sears can be demolished as well.Alberta, which bought the failing mall in July 2012, said from the beginning it could not make the redevelopment work with Sears in its present configuration at the front entrance of the mall. It intimated that if Sears didn't leave, one way or another, it could jeopardize the entire revitalization project.After months of negotiations, Alberta agreed to build a new 10,000-square-foot space for Sears on the site of the former Tres Margaritas restaurant in exchange for Sears vacating the enclosed mall space it had owned and operated for 40 years.Store officials initially said Sears wouldn't close the mall store until the new 10,000-square-foot store was ready to go, ensuring the store's continuous operation. In July, however, it announced it would close in late September and pushed the reopening into next year.Redevelopment at Foothills is in high gear, and most of the freestanding storefronts that lined College Avenue have been demolished. The one exception is Christy Sports, which will remain through the end of its lease in 2016.Chico's in the Plaza at Foothills on the south end of the property will be relocated in mid-2015 before its existing building is razed. Alberta applied for a building permit in late September to remodel 4,263 square feet in the mall for Chico's.The south end of the project will be done about three months after the rest of the project opens, Alberta officials have said.Bonds to finance the project have finally been offered and are expected to close within the next two weeks, city officials said. If the bonds close Continue Reading

Sears closing 150 stores, selling Craftsman in attempt to survive

Department-store chain Sears Holdings is seeking to stem its bleeding by closing another 150 stores, including 108 Kmart locations, and selling its Craftsman brand to raise cash.The ailing retailer said Thursday that it had reached a deal to sell the tools brand to Stanley Black & Decker for a net present value of about $900 million, including future royalty payments.The move came several months after Sears put the Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard brands up for sale as it seeks an elusive turnaround.The company said late Wednesday that it would close 108 Kmart stores and 42 Sears stores, calling it "a difficult but necessary step as we take actions to strengthen the company’s operations and fund its transformation."Sears also announced Wednesday that it had landed access to $500 million in secured loans provided by Sears CEO and Chairman Edward Lampert's ESL Investments. Lampert has invested heavily in Sears as he attempts to revitalize the retailer.Sears (SHLD) shares rose 0.3% to close at $10.39 on Thursday. Stanley Black & Decker stock rose 1.61% to close at $118.35.Taken together, the steps reflect Sears' latest bid to stay afloat in a retail market that is weakening big-box chains, including competitors such as Macy's and Kohl's. Macy's on Wednesday identified 68 stores it will close or that have already closed and said it will correspond with about 6,200 job cuts, including management positions at central operations.Selling the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker bolsters the balance sheet for Sears, which reported a $748 million loss in its fiscal quarter ended Oct. 29 as sales at stores open at least a year fell 7.4%.The chain will still operate more than 1,300 stores following the latest closures and will continue to sell the Craftsman brand.Stanley Black & Decker said it would expand sales and manufacturing of the Craftsman brand, which currently gets 90% of its sales from Continue Reading

Sears is closing 30 more stores — is yours on the list?

Sears Holdings, which wasn't shy when it announced at the start of the year that it is closing 150 underperforming stores, has quietly added at least 30 more to the list.Another 12 Sears stores and 18 Kmarts are among the locations that are closing, from Carson, Calif., to Hialeah, Fla., with most scheduled to shut their doors in July, based on calls to the stores, malls and confirmation in local media.At the start of the year, the retailer pinpointed the 150 stores it said it would close. But it declined this week to provide a list of additional locations that are slated to shut since then, saying that it update store counts each quarter.A spokesman for the troubled chain has made no secret of its plans to close additional stores.Store closings: Macy's is closing these 68 stores Is your local Sears or Kmart among 150 stores to be axed? See the list What happens when Kmart and Macy's close?“At the beginning of the year we said we would continue to strategically and aggressively evaluate our store space and productivity, and accelerate the closing of some unprofitable stores,’’ said Sears Holdings spokesman Howard Riefs in a statement. When the company reported quarterly results in March, it noted "that we will continue to accelerate our focus on our best stores, best categories and best members.’’Sears, a retail stalwart, has been struggling alongside other traditional retailers like Macy’s and J.C. Penney who are trying to come up with a new formula to appeal to shoppers that increasingly bypass the mall to browse and buy online from Amazon and others.One analyst says Sears' store closings, along with those its rivals, will create an opportunity for other chains that might want to swoop in."Market share will be up for grabs. As Sears closes stores...there will be market share for department stores to take advantage of. However, we do note that Amazon is, of course, a worthy contender for Continue Reading