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SEARS HIGHLIGHTS APPAREL AS MAJOR RENOVATION PROGRAM CONTINUES IN NEW YORK METRO AREA

 HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. /PRNewswire/ -- Sears Merchandise Group said today it is investing more than $5.6 million this year to renovate two stores in the New York metropolitan area -- the Staten Island store and the Massapequa store on Long Island. This follows a $23 million renovation investment last fall at the Hicksville, East Northport and Lake Grove stores on Long Island and at the Wayne, Watchung and New Brunswick stores in New Jersey. This area initiative is part of the five-year, $4 billion capital expenditure plan Sears announced earlier this year. Sears will upgrade and re-merchandise 500 stores over the next three years; renovation will take place in 135 stores, including Staten Island and Massapequa, during 1993.
 Focal points of the renovation program are the men's, women's and children's apparel departments, which are being updated and expanded 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 Mary Conway, divisional vice president of Sears Northeast region. "These eight stores, along with our 37 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, petites, 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.
 All eight stores include "Office Center at Sears Brand Central" departments. "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.
 A "Home, Office and Travel" shop will be added to both the Staten Island and Massapequa stores. "Home, Office and Travel" shops are a new format for Sears, focusing 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 fall. Specifically, renovations to each store include:
 -- MASSAPEQUA - Store ambience will be enhanced by new aisle alignment, lighting and floor covering treatments. There will be an addition of 30,000 square feet to the sales floor, providing a special opportunity for display space in the men's, women's and children's apparel departments. As the store configuration changes, such areas as cosmetics and fragrances will be relocated for customer convenience.
 -- STATEN ISLAND - The sales floor of the store is being expanded by 30,000 square feet, with approximately 7,000 square feet of that expansion in the women's apparel area and 8,000 square feet in the men's and children's apparel areas. Plans include the refurbishing of two mall entrances, a new photo studio, and floor covering and lighting improvements to enhance the newly remodeled interior.
 -- HICKSVILLE - In keeping with a strengthened focus on apparel, most of the eight main entrances to the store open into fashion areas. Family apparel sales space has nearly doubled, with 55,000 square feet in the women's area, 20,000 square feet in men's apparel, and 23,000 square feet in children's. The remodeling program included converting 52,000 square feet of stock storage areas into display and selling space. The total store selling space increased from 130,000 square feet to 180,000 square feet. Fixtures have been updated and lines of merchandise have been expanded in all departments.
 -- LAKE GROVE - The relocation of apparel merchandise has placed women's apparel adjacent to the mall entrance on the first floor, men's apparel also on the first floor, and children's apparel on the second level. The women's apparel area has increased in size from about 20,000 to 35,000 square feet, the men's department from about 8,500 to 13,000 square feet, and the children's department from about 11,000 to 17,000 square feet. Improved space utilization is also evident in the bed and bath area which has grown from about 5,000 to 8,700 square feet.
 -- EAST NORTHPORT - A sales-floor space increase of approximately 25,000 square feet is apparent in the expansion of the apparel departments -- men's, women's and children's. Softer lighting throughout the store is contrasted with colorful spotlighting of merchandise for a brighter atmosphere. The store includes such concessions as a hair salon, photo studio, shoe repair shop, optical services, and an area specializing in keys, cards and gifts. An automotive center is attached to the East Northport store.
 -- WAYNE - An open, spacious atmosphere was achieved during renovation at the Wayne store, with easy identification of departments through new signing, a trademark of the newly remodeled stores. "The Women's Store" was located adjacent to the mall entrance and display/sales space was increased to 44,373 square feet. In the men's, women's and children's apparel areas, a total of 20,000 square feet was added to the sales floor. Furniture in the home fashions area on the second floor is grouped in room settings and is fully accessorized.
 -- WATCHUNG - The addition of an escalator opened the store to such changes as an increase in display and sales space from 98,000 to 142,000 square feet. Space which previously had been utilized for stock keeping and service was converted to apparel areas -- men's, women's and children's. Customer service areas are located outside apparel fitting rooms, and the additional space has increased display opportunities. Merchandise variety includes a cosmetics and fragrances area.
 -- NEW BRUNSWICK - New exterior signing, a new escalator and stock space converted to selling area are just a few of the changes at the New Brunswick store. The women's apparel area alone has doubled in size and there also has been expansion in the men's and children's departments. A total of 30,000 square feet has been added to the sales floor.
 The store restaurant has been remodeled; the official reopening of the restaurant was June 2.
 -0- 6/8/93
 /CONTACT: Mary Jean Houde of Sears Merchandise Group, 708-286-8361/
 (S)


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

SH -- NY015 -- 6391 06/08/93 09:07 EDT
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Date:Jun 8, 1993
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