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Sears gives facelift to soft window

Oak Brook, IL — Sears' ready-made window coverings business experienced a turnaround via simpler assortments of basic and fashion goods, repackaging of the product, streamlined display fixtures and floor stock.

This previously troubled business was revamped, said Mark Grand, vp, gmm/home fashions, from one that "had large departments, enormous sku counts, high service level needs and tall, interruptive fixtures." As a result of the changes, Grand said, "the business turned around especially in textures, and we're getting good solid comps."

Ironically, the window coverings real estate was cut the most to support Sears' re-entry into mattresses, he said.

Grand's analysis was part of the annual Sears Gilda's Club outing and Home Fashions Source Seminar here late in July that also included a marketing overview by David Selby, senior vp; Kassie Jones, vp/gmm; The Great Indoors; and Tina Settecase, vp/gmm, appliances.

Overall, Grand told suppliers, "Home fashions business ranked C+ to B- overall within Sears and is the second largest of all major categories and first in soft lines.

Bed and bath, he noted, "are pretty flat. We had good sales in the first quarter but promotions hit margins." The second quarter produced less sales but better margins.

As the home textiles business has become more promotional, Grand explained, "We're going to be doing more bed in a bag, but also we're going to have a strong position over opening price points."

Included in that strategy, he said, are "250-count Egyptian cotton Colormate sheets, 300-count cotton sateen sheets under the Whole Home brand, supersize towels, Whole Home bed pillows." There also is a whole new Colormate bath program including accessories and shower curtains for products that are not national brands. Bath, he said, will be presented by color.

In other home textiles segments, Grand said, "custom and made-to-measure have not been up to expectations," but the company is still supporting it and has added 80 additional decorators. Floor coverings, which includes area rugs and broadloom, "has had nice positive comps as well as an increase in market share. The Colormate launch has performed beyond expectations."

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