NEW YORK — Sears, Roebuck & Co. has decided to compete for fashion sales in cyberspace even as it has struggled to sell apparel in its stores.
A reengineered sears.com, for the first time selling tens of thousands of apparel items and home fashion products, as well as continuing to sell appliances, hardware and other hard goods, officially goes live today.
Sears’ effort to strengthen itself in fashion comes after it reported an 82.8 percent plunge in profits and a 2.9 percent drop in domestic same-store sales for the second quarter that ended June 28. The company, which generated $41 billion in revenue last year, sold its profitable credit card and financial services division in 2003.
Sears’ chief executive officer Alan Lacy said in reporting second-quarter results that in apparel “we continued to be affected by the product assortment and inventory issues. We lacked a sufficient amount of fashion-oriented spring product in what has been a strong fashion-driven season.” He added that “most of these issues are expected to be resolved as we move into the fall season.”
The revamped Web site will feature more than 14,000 national brand and private label items from Lee, Levi’s, Dockers and Russell, and the Sears-owned Apostrophe and Covington brands, among other lines. There will also be about 30,000 Lands’ End apparel and home items initially and another 50,000 by the end of the fourth quarter. Lands’ End was purchased by Sears for $1.9 billion in May of 2002. In addition, more than 6,400 bed and bath home fashion items, under the Sears and Lands’ End labels will be available.
Included in the offerings are two major apparel introductions: A Line, the updated fashion line of women’s apparel made exclusively for Sears by Jones Apparel Group, and Structure, the former Limited Brands men’s label purchased by Sears last year, which has been remade with casual men’s apparel, footwear and accessories. A Line, which gets distributed to 450 Sears stores this fall, will add footwear and accessories in 2005. Structure gets distributed to about 100 stores this fall.
“From not selling apparel, we are going to leapfrog everybody, and have the most advanced apparel selling online,” Bill Bass, Sears’ vice president and general manager of customer direct, said in an interview. “A year ago, we couldn’t have done this because the product wasn’t ready. There were merchandise issues, but we believe the merchants have addressed them. There are marked changes in the quality.”
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"