KMART PLANS TO CONVERT 48 LEASED VENTURE SITES
TROY, Mich. — Kmart Corp. said Monday that it will lease 48 former Venture stores from Kimco Realty Corp. and that the majority of the stores are in the Chicago and St. Louis markets.
Kmart also said it expects to take possession of the locations in July and reopen them as Big Kmart stores in late fall.
Last summer, Kmart took over 20 leases directly from Venture, which is in the process of liquidating. Venture announced its liquidation in April, deciding to shut down its remaining 73 stores.
“These 48 locations will increase Kmart’s market share in Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis, where we enjoy a strong customer franchise, as well as bring the Big Kmart format to new markets like Oklahoma City,” said Larry Kellar, Kmart’s vice president of real estate.
Kmart will invest $350 million to roll out 511 more Big Kmart stores, bringing the total to 1,181 conversions by yearend.
There could be more opportunities to pick up sites from other discounters. Bradlees and Caldor are in Chapter 11, though both have said they expect to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings. Montgomery Ward is also in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Last year, Kmart converted the 20 former Venture stores in Texas to Big Kmarts at a cost of about $600,000 each to renovate.
Among the big three discounters — Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart, the most aggressive picking up store sites vacated by other retailers has been Kmart. Wal-Mart prefers to build its stores and create boxes that are generally larger than Kmart’s.