Sears Seeks New Image With New Format, New Hires

Aug 24, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Jennifer Waters, Chicago bureau chief for CBS, describes Sears Grand store concept as, “Bed Bath & Beyond meets 7-Eleven and Pep Boys, with a lot of other stuff thrown in.”

However it is described, the retailer’s management is counting on the new format generating enough interest to get people to come back to Sears at least once to check it out.

If that happens, says Julie Krueger, director of marketing for the Sears Grand division, “It has the potential to change people’s perception of Sears.”

Changing consumers’ views on Sears is also what the retailer is hoping to accomplish with its announcement that it has hired Luis Padilla for the newly created position of president of merchandising. Reporting directly to Sears’ chairman and chief executive, Alan Lacy, Mr. Padilla will be responsible for leading and integrating all merchandising and marketing activity for the entire company.

Mr. Padilla comes to Sears with a reputation, as the Chicago Sun-Times calls it, for “putting the ‘chic’ into Target stores’ cheap.” He served as senior vice president of soft lines merchandising at Target before moving over to help restore the glamour of Marshall Field’s flagship store on State Street in Chicago.

In a released statement, Alan Lacy said, “In Luis Padilla, we have one of the industry’s most highly regarded retail executives who is credited with outstanding achievement in combining excellent merchant skills with a passion for brand leadership. His background and experience in bringing great merchandise to both a department store and discount retail environment, to both on- and off-mall formats, is ideally suited for this key leadership position at Sears as we move to grow our business aggressively on all fronts.”

Moderator’s Comment: Are you a believer in Sears’ image
makeover with the steps it’s taken with its Grand format and new hires such
as Luis Padilla?

We, along with many others, remain unconvinced on Sears’
me-too supercenter strategy with the Grand format, even though the company says
the stand-alone stores generate twice the number of annual visits (from four
to eight) compared to its mall-based department stores.

We, also along with many others, are much more bullish
on the company’s recent hires. Luis Padilla, assuming Alan Lacy lets him do
the job he’s been hired to do without interference, will not only generate an
appealing image for Sears, he will see that the retailer executes against its
message — something that has been lacking for some time.

George Anderson – Moderator

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