WASHINGTON — Kmart Corp. will join the mass market race in Mexico next Tuesday when it opens two supercenters in Mexico City’s suburbs.
A joint venture with Mexican department store chain El Puerto de Liverpool, the stores will mirror Kmart’s one-stop shopping concept in the U.S. by offering fashion, general merchandise and food in stores that range from 49,000 to 62,000 square feet.
The Kmart openings follow last fall’s introduction of Wal-Mart’s first supercenter in Mexico City, part of its joint venture with Mexico’s largest retailer and mass market king, Cifra, which had sales of $4.58 billion last year. Wal-Mart has 21 stores in its Mexican joint venture.
The other American mass merchant operating in Mexico — Price/Costco — has a joint venture with Grupo Gigante, which sells a combination of food, apparel and basic housewares.
Gigante also has a joint venture with the French hypermarket company Carrefour.
In choosing Liverpool, Kmart, based in Troy, Mich., has picked a high-end department store as its partner. Liverpool, with 18 stores and $963 million in 1993 sales, operates under two names: Liverpool and Fabricas de Francia.
Part of Kmart Mexico’s merchandising strategy for women’s wear will be an emphasis on petites, as well as maternity and large sizes. In addition, the company said it would offer a broad selection of denim.
The majority of the merchandise sold in the Mexican stores will be Mexican-made, the company said, although it listed several key labels, including its own Jaclyn Smith brand, produced outside of the country.
Among the well-known Mexican labels are Baby Creysi Yedid, for infants, and Dorian Grey and Foreva, two pantyhose labels manufactured by Mexico’s leading legwear maker, Grupo Synkro. No-Nonsense, the U.S. legwear brand recently bought by Grupo Synkro, will also be carried by the Mexican Kmarts, as well as the top American brand, Hanes, produced by Sara Lee Corp.
Kmart is staking its claim in the country’s fastest-growing retail segment.
Although the Mexican mass market has become more competitive over the last decade, a recent Smith Barney Shearson report on the country’s retailing climate said 15 to 20 percent sales growth is expected to continue for some time in this category.