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HIGHLIGHTING APPAREL, SEARS MODERNIZES EIGHT OHIO STORES

 HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Sears Merchandise Group said today it is investing more than $3.6 million this year to renovate eight Ohio stores in Findlay, Lima, St. Clairsville (near Martins Ferry), Sandusky, Springfield, Toledo and Zanesville.
 This statewide initiative is part of the five-year, $4 billion capital expenditure plan Sears announced earlier this year in which the retailer will upgrade and re-merchandise 500 stores over the next three years. The eight Ohio stores are among 135 stores Sears is beginning to upgrade this year. In addition Sears will open a 131,000-square-foot department store in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek this fall.
 The focal points of the renovation program are the men's, women's and children's apparel departments, which will be updated and expanded in the eight Ohio stores to reflect Sears new emphasis on apparel merchandising. Each store's apparel assortment will be expanded by up to 30 percent. Customers will find a new department store look in Sears apparel departments with wider aisles, softer lighting, new carpeting, and new merchandise display fixtures.
 "We are making these changes because we have a great apparel story to tell and to be responsive to our customers' shopping needs," said Joe Baron, divisional vice president of Sears North Central region. "These eight stores, along with our 30 other retail stores in the state, are important to Sears. The changes, combined with our strong emphasis on customer service through our Pure Selling Environment' program, will offer our customers a more pleasant shopping experience."
 The redesigned and expanded apparel departments in the eight stores will offer Sears private-label and national brand merchandise. In "The Women's Store," Sears will feature activewear, sportswear, intimate apparel, career apparel, casual clothing, shoes and accessories such as belts, handbags and jewelry.
 "The Men's Store" offers national brands such as Arrow, Lee, Levi's, Dockers, Body Glove, Cotler, Farah, John Weitz and Munsingwear in its sportswear, activewear, furnishings, and outerwear merchandise.
 "Kids & More" is the complete children's store offering a full line of children's apparel from sizes 0 to 20, infant furniture and accessories, and FunTronics shops featuring Sega and Nintendo games. Customers can find national brands such as Levi's, Lee, Dockers, OshKosh B'Gosh, Bugle Boy, Maverick by Wrangler and Reebok along with Sears franchise brands including Winnie-the-Pooh, McKids, Freeze Frame, MaxActive and Toughskins.
 Sears family footwear departments offer customers popular national brands such as Converse, Florsheim, Keds, LA Gear, Reebok, and Wolverines along with Sears Trader Bay, I Luv Comfort, Mainframe, Apostrophe and DieHard private-label brands.
 In addition to the apparel expansion, an "Office Center at Sears Brand Central" department will be constructed in the Westgate Mall store in Toledo. "Office Centers" average about 2,000 square feet and offer name brand computers, home office equipment and communications merchandise primarily for home-based businesses and business people working from offices in their homes.
 "Home, Office and Travel" shops will be added to the Westgate and Woodville stores in Toledo, as well as to the Sandusky store. "Home, Office and Travel" shops are a new format for Sears and focus on an assortment of "lifestyle" merchandise including bed and bath, housewares and home textiles, ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture, luggage and other merchandise in up to 6,000 square feet of selling space.
 Sears said the renovation programs are expected to be completed by late summer. Specifically, the renovations to each store will include:
 Findlay -- A major remodeling of the interior of the store will include expansion of the sales floor for apparel and other departments. New ceiling and floorcovering treatments also will be installed. In addition a new mall entrance will be added, the exterior facade of the store will be remodeled and new signing installed.
 Lima -- The sales floor of the store is being expanded from 49,000 square feet to more than 62,000 square feet. The expansion of the apparel departments includes doubling the size of the women's department and the addition of petite fashions. Space also is being added for bed, bath and window fashions. The hardware department also is being expanded and the automotive center is adding a full selection of commercial batteries for truck and marine use.
 Customer conveniences being added include a new merchandise pickup area. The facade of the store, located in the Lima Mall, also is being redone and new exterior signing installed.
 Sandusky -- The sales floor is being expanded by more than 10,000 square feet. As part of the expansion of the apparel departments, fragrances will be added and Kids & More relocated. In addition, a Home, Office and Travel shop and hearing aid department will be added to the store, which is located in the Sandusky Mall.
 St. Clairsville -- The sales floor of the store, located in the Ohio Valley Mall west of Martins Ferry, is being expanded by more than 5,500 square feet. New departments in the store will include household and personal care, luggage and window fashions.
 Springfield -- As part of the most extensive remodeling since its opening in 1971, Sears Upper Valley Mall store is being expanded by more than 8,500 square feet to provide additional space for apparel, fine jewelry and home fashions, including the addition of a floorcoverings department. New energy-efficient light also is being installed.
 Toledo-Westgate Mall -- The store's sales floor is being expanded by more than 10,000 square feet providing expanded merchandise selections, including the new Home, Office and Travel shop. Customer service enhancements in the store will include a new package pickup area.
 Toledo-Woodville Mall -- A 7,000-square-foot-expansion of the store's sales floor will provide more space for apparel and hardware as well as the new Home, Office and Travel shop. The store's mall entrance is being upgraded to reflect the newly remodeled exterior of the store, and new exterior signing is being installed.
 To strengthen its position as the nation's leading furniture retailer, Sears earlier this year opened a 30,000-square-foot freestanding Homelife furniture store in Toledo. Located in Airport Square at Airport Highway and Reynolds Road, the store is Sears first Homelife in northern Ohio and among more than 78 the retailer has opened nationwide since 1989. The Toledo store, and another in Springdale, near Cincinnati, offer more than three times the shopping space and merchandise selection of typical furniture departments in Sears stores in upscale lifestyle settings.
 Zanesville -- The store's sales floor is being expanded by 8,000 square feet. In addition to providing more space for apparel, the space will permit the addition of bed and bath fashions. Customer convenience will be improved with the addition of a new entrance into the store from the parking lot on the south side of the store, which is located in the Colony Square Mall.
 In addition to 38 retail stores and two Homelife furniture stores, Sears also operates 18 freestanding Sears Hardware stores in Ohio.
 -0- 6/1/93
 /CONTACT: Gordon Jones of Sears, 708-286-4726/
 (S)


CO: Sears Merchandise Group ST: Ohio, Illinois IN: REA SU:

SH -- NY072 -- 4012 06/01/93 13:59 EDT
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