Byline: Mark Tosh

NEW YORK — Sears, Roebuck & Co. wants to increase its presence in the New York metropolitan area and has a two-pronged plan to do it, Arthur C. Martinez, chairman and chief executive officer of Sears Merchandise Group, said Saturday.
Martinez, who was in Brooklyn for the reopening of a remodeled Sears store, said Sears is talking with Federated Department Stores about six locations Federated has agreed to close following its merger with R. H. Macy & Co. Except to confirm that the talks are ongoing, Martinez declined to say anything more about negotiations with Federated.
“I am under a gag rule,” he said.
In addition to those negotiations, Martinez said Sears is actively searching for other prospective store sites in the metropolitan area.
“We’re under-represented in this metro New York area,” he said. “Whether it’s our discussions with Federated or some other opportunities, we are going to find some way to put more stores in here.”
A regional manager and a district manager of Sears were “in the market” looking at sites late last week, Martinez said. He did not say how many sites were being considered or where they are located.
The remodeled Sears unit at Beverly Road and Bedford Avenue in Flatbush, generates annual sales exceeding $50 million and is one of the best producers in the 800-store chain, according to the company. The remodeling project added 13,000 square feet of selling area, which was used primarily to increase space for women’s apparel.
Sears also operates a store in the Bronx and expects to open a unit in Queens in a former Alexander’s location by next spring.
Judging by the sales at its Brooklyn store, Sears is confident it is “very right for this customer” in the metro area, Martinez said.
Negotiations with Federated involve one or more of the six stores Federated has agreed to close to overcome objections from the New York State Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell. Those New York stores are Abraham & Straus units on Herald Square in New York City and in Massapequa; Bloomingdale’s in Garden City; Sterns stores in Flushing and Lake Grove, and a Macy’s in White Plains.
Martinez, as reported, is expected to succeed Edward A. Brennan as chairman and chief executive officer of Sears in mid-1995. Brennan expects to retire following Sears’ spinoff of its Allstate Corp. insurance business.
Martinez said his role would not change after the Merchandise Group becomes a standalone company. “Our game plan, our strategy and our organizational structure are all going to be absolutely unchanged,” he said.

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