Sears Announces New Strategy for 'Great Indoors'

Sears Announces New Strategy for 'Great Indoors'

Hoffman Estates, IL Sears, Roebuck and Co., the parent company of "The Great Indoors," has announced a "strategic refinement" of its business strategy aimed at boosting profits and productivity at the chain of home remodeling and decorating centers, which, Sears said, retain "exceptional customer appeal."

Included in the plans, announced in late-August, are the closure of three under-performing Great Indoors stores, the conversion of a fourth store to an outlet format, and a series of operational enchancements in the remaining Great Indoors stores, according to Sears' officials.

The stores to be closed by years-end are located in Cincinnati and Arlington and Willowbrook, TX, said Sears, which is headquartered here. The store to be converted to an outlet format is located in Shelby, MI.

Following the closings, The Great Indoors will operate 18 stores in 11 markets nationwide, according to Sears. Those stores, the retail giant said, will be subject to a series of operational enhancements that include upgrades in inventory management, refined merchandising techniques and improved product sourcing and vendor strategies, according to Sears.

Each Great Indoors store showcases more than 80,000 products, and offers a selection of more than 700,000 special-order items, including many for the kitchen and bath.

When the first of the chain's stores opened in Denver several years ago, the effort was viewed by many as part of a larger direct
competitive threat mounted by major upscale home center chains to local independent kitchen and bath dealers. That threat has since been proven not to be a major factor, however, for most dealers.

Sears senior v.p. and Great Indoors general manager Jeff Jones said the company still has "high expectations for the future growth" of the chain, which he said averages annual sales of more than $30 million per store.

"We have identified the major strengths of the format, as well as opportunities to serve the customer better, while improving the stores' overall operational performance," Jones said. "We are redirecting the stores to further strengthen an already-powerful customer proposition."

"The Great Indoors is a viable, important format that has always resonated with customers," said Sears chairman and CEO Alan Lacy. "The business continues to hold great promise."

The publicly-traded Sears said it anticipates recording an after-tax charge in its fiscal third quarter of between $75 million and $100 million in connection with the refined Great Indoors strategy.