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Sears converting 100 Kmarts by yearend, 400 in three years

NEW YORK — While Sears has already been converting the 50 stores it bought from Kmart last year, Kmart has reported it expects 400 of its existing stores — more than a quarter of its store base — will be converted to Sears’ nameplates over the next three years.

The 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission stated that the stores to be converted will most likely be in locations with customer demographics that are more similar to those of typical Sears’ shoppers.

Insofar as the store conversions are concerned, Sears Chairman and CEO Alan Lacy said separately in a town hall meeting with employees that the early conversions of the Kmart stores have gone well and that another 50 stores should be converted during the second half of the year.

"We’ve elected to basically operate these stores while we convert them, rather than having Kmart do a going-out-of-business sale, give us a dark box, (then) we bring in our construction teams, (convert) and then grand open as Sears ‘X’ weeks later," Lacy said in the meeting, a transcript of which was filed with the SEC.

"It’s far more efficient and effective to continue to operate as long as we can," he continued. "You obviously avoid the going-out-of-business liquidations, you keep the customers coming to the store, you get customers excited about the store becoming a Sears store and, at some point, you switch the sign or switch the point-of-sale system and it becomes a Sears Essentials store as we go forward."

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