SEARS TO CUT BACK ON VENDORS

NEW YORK — Sears, Roebuck & Co. is planning to cut the number of its women’s apparel vendors by one-third this fall as part of its campaign to make its 800 department stores easier to shop.
The company told securities analysts Tuesday that it would cut its roster of women’s vendors by 33 percent compared with fall 1999, while men’s and children’s wear vendors would be reduced by 23 and 26 percent, respectively. The plan follows the company’s disclosure in February that it intended to cut its apparel business between 15 and 20 percent (page one, Feb. 16). However, Mark Cohen, chief marketing officer of Sears, said Tuesday that the company didn’t plan to cut its apparel sales, only its vendor structure. “Our intent is to create a lot more ‘shoppable’ environment,” he said.
Sears will institute design changes — including clear sight lines, widened aisles and even the addition of shopping carts — in 13 stores in three Midwestern markets before rolling out similar changes in all stores.
Arthur Martinez, Sears’ chairman and chief executive, told reporters after the meeting that the company would like its purchases from overseas vendors to grow to about $2 billion over the next three years, compared with the present figure of between $600 million and $700 million.

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