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Kohl's has a plan to fix seasonal 'mistakes'

Gary Evans, Andrea Lillo -- Home Textiles Today, November 17, 2003

After the "mistakes" in bloated seasonal merchandise during last year's holiday season, Kohl's has scaled back this year, and expects inventories to be up in the single digits at year end, "substantially" lower than the prior period, said Kevin Mansell, president. However, it will be "100 percent in stock" with core basics and its Get It! and Table and Tower programs.

Certain areas of the store deserve a commitment to in-stocks, executives said. Basics and the home area "are where we have a huge opportunity to grow and which we know because of replenishment programs in place and supplier partnerships we can chase the business aggressively," said Mansell during its third quarter conference call last week.

"We do believe we are well positioned for the upcoming holiday season. Our basic businesses throughout the store in apparel and home continue to do well and perform well above last year," said Mansell.

"It's too early to get a read on how the customer will actually spend" this holiday season, said Larry Montgomery, ceo. It's "positioned conservatively on the inventory front, but we can react quickly as the customer begins to open her pocketbook a little bit further."

Mansell added, "We are priced aggressively to continued to take market share. We are positioned to drive traffic in all stores throughout the quarter."

Mansell said it expected comps in November to be flat to down slightly, as "the consumer's tendency is to shop closer to need" and a single digit increase for December.

For the third quarter, home and footwear led the product categories at Kohl's, posting low single digit increases.

Get It! and Table and Tower programs are becoming a larger part of the total store business, said Mansell. Kohl's reduced Table and Tower locations in the store by 10 to 15 percent. However, the items are more productive, he said.

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