Big hopes for ministores – 2/19/08
Sears tries to boost sales by giving Lands’ End products their own space
Retailer Sears, a part of Sears Holdings, has struggled for years to get shoppers to go to its stores for more than drills and refrigerators. But remakes pitching the “softer side of Sears” didn’t do the trick. So now Sears is trying another tactic — creating complete Lands’ End stores-within-a-store — in the hope that it can capitalize on the brand. At its store in Hunt Valley Towne Centre, the retailer has dedicated about half of the first floor, about 24,000 square feet, to Lands’ End, a preppy outdoor and apparel brand.
Department stores say the ministores give consumers another reason to shop at their stores. Companies such as Polo, Sephora, Under Armour and Sprint say setting up in larger stores gives them access to prime real estate. They also said their products sell better in ministores than if the merchandise were scattered around various departments.
Analysts said Sears’ continuing weak sales — the company announced a restructuring and the departure of its chief executive officer last month — indicate that Sears might be depending too much on Lands’ End.
Discussion questions: What is your take on Sears’ latest attempt to redefine their apparel offering? Can a Lands End ministore work for Sears like Under Armour ministores work for Dick’s Sporting Goods? Click on “comments” below to post your views.
The concept of the ministore has worked for years and has recently come back strong in the form of exclusives, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Martha Stewart at Macy’s, and Chaps at Kohl’s. So the idea of using their exclusive on Lands’ End to set up significant ministores is logical. The problem is that few people think about Sears as a place to buy apparel, leaving the Lands’ End shops as incongruous. I don’t think this effort will hurt sales by any means and should create some interest for those who do recognize that the brand is only available in Sears if they want to see it in person. However, the larger problem of Sears’ “reason for existence” remains in question. They might have better luck doing a Lands’ End exclusive with Macy’s or Kohl’s and avoiding the expense to implement this concept throughout the Sears store portfolio. Only time will tell – stay tuned.
Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist
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