Sears has gotten its second chance, and the department store giant is going lower case. Sears Holdings opened the first three locations for its new Home & Life stores in Overland Park, Kansas, Lafayette, Louisiana, and Anchorage, Alaska, CNBC reports.
The new format will boast new branding, average 12,500 SF and focus on mattresses, appliances, tools and smart home services. They will also look to place its Home & Life stores in open-air shopping centers “for more flexibility” and parking convenience. Among such shopping centers, the company will favor those in areas with growing populations of young families.
Home & Life will attempt to respond to many of the prevailing trends in retail. They’re adding a “Search Bar” in front to provide a service-forward environment for shoppers. Staffers at the desk will be able to set up installation and service appointments. They can also order items from Sears and Kmart’s websites.
The first version of the Sears Home & Life concept started in four pilot stores from Pennsylvania to Hawaii that only sold mattresses and appliances. Those are converting to the new branding in the coming months, CNBC reports. All told, Sears Holdings still operates 425 stores, or about 275 fewer than when it filed for bankruptcy in October.
After a tense bankruptcy court battle between Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert and the companies’ numerous creditors, Lampert bought the company through his hedge fund, ESL Investments, for $5.2B to regain control in February. A week after the decision, Lampert resigned from both positions at Sears, though he remains the controlling owner. The Sears, Kmart, Kenmore and DieHard brands now exist within an entity called Transform Holdco.
Soon after, those same creditors sued Lampert and ESL Investments for draining Sears of valuable assets such as the real estate now held by spinoff Seritage Growth Properties. ESL Investments is the controlling owner of Seritage, which has seen solid growth as Sears Holdings continues to bleed money. The lawsuit alleges that Lampert transferred assets to himself for much less than market value to enrich ESL and reduce Sears’ solvency, all while inflating growth projections to prop up the company’s value to investors and creditors.