SEARS RETOOLS: Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s 2002 expansion plans include 15 new full-line stores, seven of which will be relocations of existing units. Sears also plans to remodel 50 stores as it begins a four-year plan to update about 600 of its larger stores with many of the features it’s putting into new store designs, including centralized checkouts and simplified signage. In a statement, Sears chief executive Alan Lacy noted that the firm’s new and renovated units will “emphasize better classic apparel while highlighting our strong appliance, electronics and home improvement merchandise.”
MAY MEETS MOODY’S: Rating agency Moody’s Investors Service placed The May Department Stores Co.’s long-term debt on review for possible downgrade, citing “a sated apparel market and a slower economy.” The firm’s debt currently resides at “A1,” well within prime territory. May Co.’s prime-1 commercial paper rating was confirmed and is not under review, due to the company’s “established brand franchises, geographic diversity and superior execution,” said Moody’s.