Byline: D.M.P.

NEW YORK — The Big Three may have a majority of the mass market in their pockets, but other chains are also important regional players. And on the national front, Sears has rebounded since implementing a new merchandising strategy in 1993.
Here, some key players in the mass arena.

Sears Merchandise Group, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

1993 sales: $29.5 billion. Net income: $751.6 million.

Total revenues for Sears, Roebuck & Co. were $50.8 billion, including the Allstate Insurance group and its Corporate Business unit.

Last year was the most profitable in Sears’ 107-year history. The company completed a corporate repositioning, got out of the domestic catalog business, closed unprofitable stores and mounted a $40 million advertising campaign to promote its updated apparel businesses.

Apparel posted gains of 14.9 percent over 1992. Sears continues to remodel stores and also plans to launch a bath and body treatment line late next year.

Caldor Corp., Norwalk, Conn.

1993 sales: $2.4 billion. Net income: $33.2 million.

A key upscale discounter in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, operating 150 stores. Caldor has been remodeling its stores since 1989. Last year, it opened 14 stores and remodeled 19 others. It plans to open 12 to 14 stores in 1994.

The retailer has improved apparel assortments to reflect more fashion-conscious merchandise. Softlines have been gradually building up steam, and improved to 41 percent of sales in 1993. In 1987, they were 35 percent of total sales. The company estimates the category will hit 43 percent of sales in 1995.

Ames Department Stores Inc., Rocky Hill, Conn.

1993 sales: $2.1 billion. Net earnings: $10.8 million.

Ames emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in December 1992.

The company operates 308 discount stores in 17 eastern states and the District of Columbia. In June, the company announced that it had named a new president and chief executive, Joseph Ettore, who held those posts at Jamesway Corp. Ettore is known as a merchandising specialist, and said he would be focusing on Ames’s apparel as a key area of improvement. Women’s apparel is the only product category that exceeds 10 percent of total sales, with for 13.3 percent.

Venture Stores Inc., O’Fallon, Mo.

1993 sales: $1.9 billion. Net earnings: $41.4 million.

Venture has identified four strategies for improving its sales and profits: expansion, responding to current fashion trends, improving customer service and upgrading technology to keep merchandise in stock.

The company operates 104 stores in the Midwest. In 1993, it expanded into Texas with six stores in Houston and five in Dallas-Fort Worth. Texas is the company’s main focus of expansion. The company aims for 50 stores in Texas by 1997. In all, 50 new stores are planned over the next five years.

Bradlees Inc., Braintree, Mass.

1993 sales: $1.8 billion. Net earnings: $6.7 million.

Bradlees operates 126 department stores in the Northeast, and has been expanding into urban areas. It opened its first store in the New York City area — in Yonkers — last year, and it has plans to open in Manhattan, at Union Square, on Nov. 6, and in Brooklyn in spring 1995. This year, 11 new stores are on tap.

The company also has been remodeling stores and improving fashion assortments to reflect current trends.

ShopKo Stores Inc., Green Bay, Wis.

1993 sales: $1.7 billion. Net earnings: $32.1 million.

ShopKo operates 117 stores in the Upper Midwest, Mountain states and Pacific Northwest. In 1991, the company began a remodeling and remerchandising program, dubbed Vision 2000. Its goal is to emphasize value as well as fashion and quality in merchandise offerings, in an updated shopping environment. It has also upgraded its warehouse and distribution facilities.

Over the last 18 months, ShopKo has narrowed its vendor structure by about 25 percent, and cut its private label by 40 to 50 percent.


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