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 NEW YORK, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Sears, Roebuck and Co. (NYSE: S) officials today said previously announced plans are proceeding on schedule for divesting some of its financial services units, with the initial public offering (IPO) for Dean Witter, Discover & Co. currently underway. The company also announced a five-year, $4-billion capital expenditure program for its Merchandise Group, focused primarily on upgrading U.S. retail stores.
 Sears Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edward A. Brennan told securities analysts at a meeting here that "1992 was a difficult, busy and pivotal year for Sears as the company initiated repositioning and restructuring actions that will create a different company, in fact, a new Sears." He said the company's repositioning is going well and the majority of the actions should be implemented by fall. Investors meetings began this week for the IPO of 20 percent of Dean Witter. As previously annoaunced, the company plans to spin off the remainder of Dean Witter as a dividend to Sears shareholders later this year.
 Brennan said preparation of registration materials for the IPO of Allstate Insurance Group is proceeding on schedule and investor meetings for this IPO should commence in the Spring. A substantial number of prospective investors have requested information about Coldwell Banker Residential Services businesses, a response Brennan said exceeded company expectations.
 Brennan said Sears initiated the divestiture actions, after months of intensive study, to permit shareholders to participate more directly in Sears financial services achievements, to strengthen the balance sheet and to focus attention on its core businesses -- retail and insurance. He noted that in the past 10 years revenues from Sears financial services businesses grew from $9.5 billion to $26 billion. "We also believed that as a result of these actions the market would have a better appreciation of the true value of the individual businesses, both those we will divest and those we will retain," Brennan said.
 Regarding the future, Brennan said, "We are focusing squarely on what has to be done to ensure profitable growth. The $47 billion of revenues that remain are an incredibly large base on which to build and offer excellent potential for accelerated earnings growth. I want to make it clear that our strategy is to get our cost structure in line with that of our competitors and to focus on those things we do best so that we can move forward to build our business," he added.
 Sears Merchandise Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Arthur C. Martinez said that while the primary focus of the group's five-year, $4-billion capital expenditure program will be on the existing store base, capital will be made available for selected new store openings and the roll-out of promising new free-standing concepts. He noted Sears would open six new multi-line retail stores this year. They include stores in a new mall in Alpharetta, Ga., and five new relocated stores in Meriden, Conn.; Wichita, Kan.; Mattoon, Ill.; Beavercreek (Dayton), Ohio; and Natick, Mass. Martinez said Sears also will open, in 1993, 25 new Homelife furniture stores and about 20 free-standing hardware stores.
 "We believe we have the best retail store locations at major regional malls in the country which offer us tremendous growth potential. While a considerable amount of work has been done in our stores in recent years, much more needs to be done and at an accelerated pace," Martinez stated. "The change will vary from store to-store, depending upon the need. Some stores require a little; and some require a lot. But have no doubt that we are committed to doing it as soon as possible to offer customers the best shopping environment possible.
 "We will be much more focused on our target customer group, consisting of American families who own homes, have children, and have a need for superior values in the products and services they buy. Our marketing message will primarily be targeted to the women in these families who are the primary decision makers in most of our businesses."
 As announced Wednesday, Martinez said Sears Merchandise Group will focus on three core business groups -- apparel, home and automotive. "Our strategic priorities are to focus on core businesses where we can win and grow, position Sears as a compelling place to shop, become more market driven, accelerate the pace of expense reductions, and develop a more successful corporate culture."
 Regarding the Apparel Group, Martinez said Sears will accelerate the growth of this very profitable group by allocating additional space within the stores to the business, increasing marketing expenditures and developing a more aggressive accessories merchandising program.
 Commenting on the Home Group, Martinez said Sears will "exploit its dominant leadership positions in areas including home appliances and home improvement with its superior ability to provide service and repair. We want to provide end-to-end products and services." Martinez said Sears intends to retain its dominant automotive position nationally by focusing on tires, batteries and services closely related to these products.
 Sears Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Edward M. Liddy told analysts, "The strategic repositioning and restructuring actions place Sears on a solid track to reduce debt and improve cash flow." He indicated that recently announced actions to restructure Sears Merchandise Group are expected to improve cash flow in excess of $1 billion over the next five years. "We are committed to maintaining a strong balance sheet and to protecting our financial flexibility," Liddy stated.
 Liddy also said that the company intends to increase Allstate Insurance Group's capital by approximately $1 billion in 1993, with $300 million to $600 million raised through debt and/or preferred stock offerings by Allstate's recently formed holding company, Allstate Corp., and the remainder through a combination of partial retention of IPO proceeds and temporary reduction of dividends to Sears.
 -0- 2/11/93
 /CONTACT: Gerald Buldak of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 312-875-8371/

CO: Sears, Roebuck and Co. ST: New York IN: REA SU:

TS -- NY023 -- 5573 02/11/93 09:47 EST
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Date:Feb 11, 1993

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