See Sears for yourself
Any observer of retail armed with a cell phone camera, generally speaking, can enter a store at any time of the day or night and take pictures that are embarrassing to the store’s operator.
That’s what happened to Sears, and in a very big way, thanks to an article "More Pathetic Pictures from a Dying Sears" that appeared in The Street.com.
A "dying" operation. A "national tragedy." "Pathetic." These are some of the terms that the financial blogosphere is heaping on the ailing Sears Holdings Corp., the company ranked no. 3 in home improvement sales on the HCN Industry Scoreboard, behind the industry giants of Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Point of emphasis: Let us be clear. Sears is struggling, and in a very big way. Its most recent quarterly report shows a net loss of $534 million for the quarter ended Nov. 2, and a $1.007 billion loss for the 39 week year-to-date period. If that’s not bad enough, both losses are widening when compared to the year-ago periods.
But back to the pictures. Empty shelves, unflattering presentations and chronic boredom in the aisles were documented by analysts and financial columnists. Is it fair to judge (and condemn) a large retailer’s execution ability by a handful of photos?
Sears VP of Corporate Communications Chris Brathwaite offered the following defense of his company in a Twitter post: "We operate nearly 2000 stores. Select photos are not representative of the whole. We post pictures 2." (In a separate tweet explaining his defense, Brathwaite wrote: "We can’t let the shorts and others with an agenda simply take uncontested shots at us.")
Brathwaite has a point. The camera doesn’t lie — but one store can produce several different stories depending on where the lens is aimed.
The more important question for readers of HCN is what’s happening in Sears stores as it relates to home improvement, tools and lawn and garden? WIth no agenda, other than to be of service to our readers, HCN took a cell phone camera to a New Jersey store.
The Good: Strong signage, inviting aisles and interesting end caps were on display in the tools department.
More good: blowers on display, with some thought for appearances, on a cold winter day.
The interesting: A Pink-alicious end cap grabs attention with "The Original Pink Box" merchandise.
The bad: an empty end cap speaks for itself.
The uninspiring: a bare-bones clearance rack.
The ugly? Duck Dynasty slippers on sale, leftovers from the holidays. At least credit Sears for understanding that the Duck Dynasty is arguably the hottest franchise in the impulse-sales arena.
The strong: This wet/dry vac end cap promotes the chain’s strongest brand asset — Craftsman. And it does so in a clean, powerful way with a strong message of "innovation."
Photography alone can’t tell the full story of retailer’s environment. But it doesn’t hurt. And the pictures above add to the continuing saga of Sears — telling the story of a retailer on the ropes, but still fighting.
Jeff Pratt appointed to SVP sales at Danze and Gerber
Jeff Pratt has been promoted at Danze, Inc. and Gerber Plumbing Fixtures to the role of SVP sales, in which he will oversee sales in the company’s wholesale, retail, e-commerce, hospitality, multi-family and Canadian segments.
“Jeff’s promotion reflects his tremendous personal and business success leading our branded sales team to increasing sales and market share over the years,” said Michael Werner, president and CEO. “He has become a highly regarded executive in the plumbing industry and will help us maintain and expand our reputation throughout the category.”
Pratt has been with Globe Union, which helped launch the Danze Brand in 2001, since 1999. In 2003, the company acquired the Gerber product line, and he took on a leadership role there.
At the moment, Pratt oversees overall sales strategy and sales management for both Danze and Gerber; his promotion will further expand his responsibilities in that area.
The Tile Shop makes its Connecticut debut
Continuing its wave of expansion, The Tile Shop has opened its first retail locations in Connecticut: one in Danbury and one in Norwalk.
“We’re excited about bringing the Beautiful Made Easy experience to Connecticut,” said Carl Randazzo, SVP Retail for The Tile Shop. “There are many beautiful, historic homes in both areas. The Tile Shop brings Danbury and Norwalk residents the widest, deepest selection of natural tile and stone in Connecticut – including natural marble and granite that homeowners with turn-of-the-century homes will find very appealing. Our tile and stone experts can help homeowners re-capture the history of their homes with authentic tile or stone, or give older homes a completely new contemporary look and feel.”
Located at 18 Federal Road at the Candlewood Plaza Shopping Center in Brookfield, the new Danbury location measures 15,120-sq.-ft., while the Norwalk store stands slightly larger at 20,740-sq.-ft in the ShopRite plaza of Oak Hills. oth stores are situated next to other major big-box stores, including Home Depot.
As is customary for Tile Shop stores, the new locations both feature fully decorated, room-size displays with working appliances, lighting and plumbing fixtures.
Stores have over 4,500 natural stone and tile products, as well as free DIY tiling workshops on Saturday mornings.
The company operates 90 stores in 28 states, with an average size of 23,000 square feet.