Sears to exit installed floor coverings

Carole Sloan, January 7, 2002

Sears is exiting the custom decorating and installed floor coverings business during the first quarter of this year.

Sears, once the largest retailer of broadloom carpet in the country, will eliminate this product segment from its mix, which is offered in more than 550 of its full line stores. It will affect some 1,500 sales people.

Early in 2001, Sears transferred the responsibility for the carpet cleaning program to the merchandise department under the aegis of Mark Grand, vp, home fashions. The plan at the time was to develop synergies between the merchandise and service aspects of the broadloom business. Grand also is responsible for the custom decorating department, which is estimated to do more than $70 million; the broadloom business is significantly larger.

Customers in both businesses transacted a large portion of their purchases through Sears' credit programs.

The company's custom decorating department that offered custom fabric and hard window coverings was represented in about 400 full-line stores and involves about 550 decorators, some of whom represented districts rather than specific stores.

The decision to exit these businesses, which apparently were profitable, "was part of a merchandise review across the store that determined that we would have more emphasis on core merchandise categories," said Peggy Palter, company spokeswoman.

Sears will continue to merchandise made-to-measure draperies that are installed by consumers, blinds and shades, ready-made curtains and draperies and area rugs and pads. In some cases, as is the case now, individual stores can recommend installers for the made-to-measure products.

In broadloom, key suppliers include Mohawk and Shaw. In custom decorating, key suppliers include Antex, Carole Fabrics, Hunter Douglas and Levolor.

Customers orders definitely will be filled, Palter said, and orders will be taken until the end of February.

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