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Kmart parent brings in a new merchandising leader

BY DSN STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Kmart parent company Sears Holdings hired Ron Boire as EVP, chief merchandising officer and president of Sears and Kmart formats.

Boire, who previously was president and CEO of Brookstone, will lead merchandising and retail stores for both the Sears and Kmart brands.

"He will work with our leadership team to better serve our customers and Shop Your Way Rewards Members by integrating their experiences across our stores, online, services, and mobile capabilities," the company said.

"We are in the midst of a transformation of our business, from top to bottom, as we seek to become the leading integrated retailer in the country," Sears Holdings president and CEO Lou D’Ambrosio said. "By attracting someone with Ron’s significant experience in retail, merchandising and product development as well as in leading companies through turnarounds, we’re adding a key talent in accelerating our transformation."

The move comes shortly after Sears announced plans to close 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart stores. D’Ambrosio added, "We have made some difficult decisions recently and will make the hard choices necessary to turn our business around going forward. At the same time, we will continue to invest to better serve our customers by delivering world-class, integrated experiences across our stores, our online sites, our services and our mobile capabilities. And, we will continue to invest in our people, ensuring that we have the talent and skills necessary to effect this transformation."

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100 to 120 Kmart, full-line Sears stores to close

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Kmart’s parent company delivered some not-so-happy holiday news last week.

Sears Holdings said last Tuesday that it will close between 100 and 120 underperforming Kmart and Sears stores, following dismal holiday sales results for the brands.

The company said it has not yet identified which stores will be shuttered, but said that the closures are part of an overall plan to shift its focus from shoring up underperformers to concentrating its efforts on stronger stores.

"Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model," Sears Holdings CEO Louis D’Ambrosio said. "These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers."

Sears said that the store closings will generate $140 to $170 million in cash from inventory sales. It anticipates additional proceeds from the sale or sublease of real estate holdings.

The retailer had announced numerous closings this year, but this is the largest group of closings to date.

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Report: Consumers spent $44 billion on holiday 2011

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

CHICAGO — Thanks to a last-minute shopping rush, Christmas 2011 likely will outpace its prior-year counterpart. According to a report released Wednesday by ShopperTrak, consumers spent approximately $44 billion in retail sales for the week ended Dec. 24, a 37.8% increase over the previous week and a 14.8% gain over the same week last year.

Foot traffic also was high, increasing 32.4% from the previous week.

The last-minute sales increase ensured this December will outpace December 2010. Month-to-date figures are up 4.7% over December 2010.

“Holiday shopping reached a climax last week,” ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said. “With good weather in most of the country and the season coming to a close, procrastinators and bargain hunters hit the stores and gave retailers the sales lift they needed to outpace last year.”

According to ShopperTrak, a late holiday shopping surge is not uncommon. Last year, the 10 days before Christmas accounted for 24.4% of total retail sales in the entire holiday shopping season of November and December.

“Increased foot-traffic does not always translate into sales,” Martin said. “Retailers who monitored their foot-traffic hourly and adjusted inventory and staffing to convert shoppers into buyers were the most successful last week.”

As expected, shoppers came out in full force on the day after Christmas because it fell on a Monday for the first time in six years. The day ranked fourth in foot traffic and sales for the entire holiday season, behind Black Friday, Nov. 26, Friday, Dec. 23 and Super Saturday, Dec. 17. Foot traffic increased 25.9% over the same day last year and consumers spent $7.1 billion on Dec. 26 in retail sales, an increase of 25.5% over the same day last year.

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