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The Detroit News reports that Kmart Chairman James B. Adamson and President Julian C. Day have said that they are confident in the company’s ability to survive, suggesting that it will emerge from bankruptcy protection next July – or possibly earlier.

Adamson and Day also said:

• A new policy will give store managers more control over local merchandising and product selection.

• No layoffs or large-scale store closings are expected this year…but remain possible for the beginning of 2003 as the company files its reorganization plan.

• Both men said that the 2002 holiday season, while important, is not “make or break” for Kmart. “It's not going to kill Kmart if we don't have a great Christmas,” Adamson said.

• The Detroit Free-Press reports that Kmart will roll out a “bold in-stock guarantee program” in Detroit and Chicago, guaranteeing that if a sale item is out of stock, customers get both a rain check and a comparable item at the same price. “Kmart will thus penalize itself for being out of stock by selling two items for the price of one, instead of penalizing the customer,” the paper reports.

In addition, the Kmart executives downplayed the company’s competition with Wal-Mart, which is what got Kmart into so much trouble to begin with.

“We are not going to try to be Wal-Mart. We're not going to try to be Target. Kmart is the store of the neighborhood, and we have to capitalize on that,” Adamson said, adding, “Being big is not important. Being right is important.”
KC's View:
We have to say that this last statement by Adamson is one of the more encouraging utterances we’ve heard from Kmart in a long time. And the hint about Kmart identifying itself as “the store of the neighborhood” is intriguing, though we have to wonder if the infrastructure that exists will support it.

But for the moment, at least, we’ll give Kmart the benefit of the doubt. (And you thought we’d never say anything nice about Kmart…)