retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that Kmart Corp. has a tentative list of 567 stores that it could close after the coming holiday season. Kmart has about 1,800 stores open at present; if all these stores were to close, it would amount to shutting down more than 30 percent of the chain.

As many as 40 stores in Florida and 40 in Texas are included on the list, according to the report.

“We do not have a list of stores slated to be closed,” Kmart spokesman Jack Ferry told Dow Jones. “We're in the preliminary stages of evaluating our store base as part of the restructuring.” Ferry said that “the one critical component of the analysis is the year-end sales results of the stores, and that won't be known, obviously, until after the holiday season.”

There remain rampant rumors in the marketplace that Kmart could shutter as many as 800 stores. At the same time, company officials have said that the retailer seems to be turning things around, as the company experiments with new prototype stores and a new logo.
KC's View:
This doesn’t come as an enormous surprise; many of us have remained skeptical about Kmart’s ability to fix the root causes of its problems, despite the positive spin that management has been putting on developments.

As we reported last Wednesday, lat Portland State University’s annual “Connections” conference, sponsored by the school’s Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC), one of the speakers was Dick King, former president and CEO of Albertsons and current member of the Encore Advisory Board serving as Interim General Merchandising Manager for Food and Consumables at Kmart. And King did say that f sales don’t improve during the holiday period, Kmart will “have to make adjustments in our operations” in January.

King’s presentation, however, was calm, measured and confident without braggadocio. It was one of the few times that we actually began to believe that Kmart might make it.

Though we remain convinced that if indeed Kmart does survive, it will be as a shadow of its former self.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.