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Sears is Responding to Hot Appliance Competition
Sep 4, 2003
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Sears Roebuck & Co. has recently boosted its appliance sales by responding more aggressively to competition from Home Depot Inc , Lowe's Cos. Inc. and Best Buy Co., Sears' top executive said recently.

With its 39-percent share of the appliance market in jeopardy, Sears has begun to lower its prices, offer more aggressive financing packages and is improving service and fixtures at its stores, Chairman and Chief Executive Alan J. Lacy told investors at a retailing conference hosted by Goldman Sachs & Co.

Sears said recently it expects its August sales at stores open at least a year to be better than originally forecast, citing improved appliance sales. Mr. Lacy declined to comment on the company's August sales. "We need to be more competitive," Mr. Lacy said.

Sears is improving its assortment of name brand appliances, he said. And it is offering a wider selection of lower-priced appliances.

On the customer service side, Mr. Lacy said the chain is instituting programs that rank its stores and sales associates regularly in terms of selling prowess. The company has also instituted a new, more casual dress-code for sales associates.

Mr. Lacy also talked about the company's new "Sears Grand" store concept. A pilot store measuring 150,000 sq ft will open this fall in Salt Lake City, UT, U.S., and the company will test a handful more over the next year or two.
The stores will add "transactional items" to the kinds of merchandise found at Sears stores currently, Mr. Lacy said. For example, while regular Sears stores carry lawn and garden products, they don't offer fertilizer, grass seed, or plants; the consumer electronics section at Sears doesn't sell CDs or DVDs, and few toys can be found in the children's section.

While Sears is also considering adding some nonperishable food items to the new format, Mr. Lacy told investors that the Sears Grand concept won't compete with traditional mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target. "This is not going to be a grocery store," Mr. Lacy said. "This is not going to be a super Target or a super Wal-Mart." (Reuters)

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