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Home Highlights Kohl's 2Q Results

Home proved a key category for Kohl's Corp. during its second quarter, coming in second only to men's in sales performance.

The 834-unit mid-tier department store specified that bedding, decorative home and luggage were highlights in the department during the period.

Also related to home, the retailer is content with its brand expansion initiatives as in the case with Chaps in home and apparel.

The debut in September of the Vera Wang and Food Network programs, which both include home, are part of Kohl's grander strategy of "fueling our private and exclusive brand growth with our 'Only at Kohl's' effort…to drive awareness of these brands and their availability only at Kohl's…We are building for the future as we strive to continue to broaden our overall customer base," said Kevin Mansell, president.

He described the upcoming brand launches – Simply Vera, rolling out in mid September, and thereafter Food Network, which has been pushed back to later in the month – as "the two most important initiatives for fall 2007" although, he later added, these brands will be "a small part of our fall 2007 sales base."

They are being supported with "fully integrated campaigns in all media forms," including television, direct mail, internet, broadcast and tabs, he added.

Food Network, which will be broad-based in housewares, is expected to "lift home," Mansell said.

As Kohl's broadens its brand offerings, it is further supporting them with fresher stores.

The 29 newly remodeled stores – which got facelifts more than two months ago – are showing "pleasing results" thus far, "but it is still too early to draw any definitive conclusions," said Tom Kingsbury, senior evp. "We will continue to monitor their performances as well as customer feedback to further refine our remodel strategy."

The plan is to remodel approximately 55 stores in 2008 between the first and second quarter.

Added Larry Montgomery, chairman and ceo: "We still need to get through another two months to get better read, but we're off to good start."

The company's "innovative stores" that opened in fall 2006 continue to outperform non-innovation stores. As a result Kohl's said has incorporated customer feedback in developing the 2008 prototype.

This fall, Kohl's is set to open 95 new units – 85 of them in October, representing "our largest grand opening ever," Kingsbury said. The balance of those is scheduled for early November openings.

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