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Sears grows home with Lands' End

HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL Home textiles will be expanded as part of the growing merchandise offering under the Lands' End banner in Sears stores this spring.

Sears this month is completing Lands' End sets in 401 stores — nearly half of its 870-store base — although home departments are currently available in just 370 of its stores.

The home textiles mix in the initial Lands' End at Sears test, which started last November in 181 stores in 10 key markets, had been select bed and bath items. The expanded offerings will include more seasonal items, including beach towels, blankets and reversible rugs, as well as additional bedding and bath items.

Typical price points for the new products are: towels, from $4 to $20; rugs, $42; and, rugby striped beach towels and blankets, from $16 to $39. Items selected for Sears from the Lands' End home textiles mix is determined in the same manner as the apparel offerings, said Lee Antonio, a Sears spokesman. "If it's hot at Lands' End, it can be offered at Sears," she noted.

The initial test "produced significant consumer foot traffic and product sales, with the Lands' End merchandise meeting and sometimes exceeding fourth quarter expectations," said Kathy Buffano, executive vp.

During tests launched last November in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hartford/New Haven, CT, Los Angeles, Madison, WI, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, NC, and San Francisco, Sears offered two presentations: Lands' End merchandise integrated into category assortments and Lands' End displayed in a shop concept. Store research found that customers preferred the latter, Sears said.

In addition, about 60 percent of Sears' core hardlines customers — defined as those who shop the store for major appliances, electronics or hardware — said they would be more likely to shop Sears for apparel in the Lands' End line, according to the company.

Sears acquired Lands' End in June 2002, effectively buying its way into a major branded apparel program — a decades-old quest for the national retailer.

A 24-page catalog linking Lands' End products at Sears mailed this month under the banner, "Now at Sears. Lands' End Best Sellers Step Right In." Home textiles were not included in what they called a "shopalog."

As of this month, Lands' End has been expanded into an additional 23 markets: Albany/Schenectady/Troy, NY; Baltimore; Cincinnati; Cleveland/Columbus, OH; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Denver; Detroit; Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, MI; Harrisburg/York/Lancaster/Lebanon, PA; Honolulu; Houston; Las Vegas; Miami; Orlando/Daytona Beach/Melbourne, FL; Phoenix; Providence/New Bedford, RI; Sacramento/Stockton, CA; San Diego; Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL; Washington; West Palm Beach/Ft. Pierce/Vero Beach, FL; Wilkes Barre/Scranton, PA; and Puerto Rico.

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