NEW YORK -- Sears de Mexico is saying "Olé" to a new prototype that will be the design for its stores of the future.
"We have a substantial growth strategy for the next few years," said Warren Flick, chief executive officer of Sears de Mexico. "The prototype will allow us to better emphasize apparel and all aspects of the women's business. These concepts developed into a new design. Two new stores in Monterrey and a remodel of our existing store there will serve as the prototype for future stores."
The new concept is being launched in March.
Sears has been operating in Mexico for 47 years, and currently has 46 units. Volume last year was $424 million. It has plans for an additional 30 stores in the next five to six years, and plans six remodels.
The best ideas that emerge from the new concept stores will be incorporated into other Sears units in Mexico, Flick said, in a telephone interview from his Mexico City office.
"The idea is to create more of a unified image for Sears," said Edward C. Hambrecht, vice chairman and managing principal of SDI-HTI, one of the architectural planning firms Sears de México retained for the redesign. "There were a lot of little shops throughout the store -- it was very confusing. We hope to give the stores a focus."
Bryan Gailey, vice president of SDI-HTI, and one of the project designers, added, "We want the customer to have as many clues as possible that Sears is a fashionable place."
In Mexico, Sears is more upscale than it is in the U.S. Sears de México carries more moderate and better department-store labels, including Jones New York, Carole Little, Evan-Picone and JH Collectibles.
Sears de México will open its largest prototype, a 163,000-square-foot unit, in the Plaza San Agustin mall, and a mid-size store, at 88,000 square feet, in the San Nicolas mall, both in Monterrey. Each store is two levels. In addition, the existing 70,000-square-foot store in downtown Monterrey, which has been operating since 1948, will be remodeled.
Apparel in general will get a higher percentage of overall space. It has been 52 to 55 percent, and will be 70 percent in new stores, said Flick. This comes at the expense of automotive, home improvement and leased concessions, like restaurants, candy departments and eyeglass centers."We enjoy a substantial prestige cosmetics and fragrance business, and we feel there's still room for growth here, so this area will be expanded," Flick said. "All women's businesses will grow, including intimate apparel. Men's businesses will grow proportionately to the women's, and children's will grow slightly.
Within women's wear, Flick said petites and large sizes have an opportunity for expansion. The career business is strong, with two-piece dressing and separates, but Flick said the growth is in casual misses' apparel. The junior business, which has been very strong, will continue to be a focus.
"In the past year, women's apparel grew to about 43 percent of overall sales, and will be about 45 percent this year," he said. "In past years, it had been 33 to 35 percent of total sales."
Gailey said there will be wall and table presentations of merchandise, the layout will use architectural columns to tell fashion stories, and the overall design will try to connect different departments visually. For example, the same type of table display that is used for sweaters might be used in the tool department.
"We must have a contemporary approach, since a large percentage of the population is very young," Hambrecht added.
The stores' color scheme will be warm, with bleached maple and birch wood, and carpeting will be camel with a burgundy pindot, or an ivory and beige windowpane pattern.
"After surveying the Mexican stores, we felt Sears needed more indigenous materials, like local marble and ceramic or terra cotta flooring," said Hambrecht. "Previously, the marble was gray. This is a warmer beige marble."