Sears to rebrand 61 Kmart stores

US general merchandiser Sears Roebuck will convert the stores it acquired from Kmart in a US$620 million (£337 million) deal last week into bigger versions of its new standalone fascia Sears Grand.

The two-store Sears Grand trial was launched last year and takes the retailer's traditional mall offer of white goods, clothing and homewares closer to shoppers' homes.

The shops, styled as 'one-stop home and family centres', are for the first time offering convenience-based add-ons such as milk and detergent, alongside items such as fridges and clothes.

Kmart shoppers have a similar profile to Sears' and two- thirds of the 61 new stores are in the US's top 15 demographic areas.

'These transactions will jump start our strategy to grow the brand off-mall,' said Sears chairman and chief executive officer Alan Lacy. 'These acquisitions will allow us to open more stores quickly and boost our off-mall retail presence.'

Sears will invest US$200 million (£108.8 million) in a refit programme that is expected to be ready by the end of next year. The majority of stores will be converted to a mid-size version of Sears Grand.

Merrill Lynch analyst Dan Barry said that the off-mall stores had been exceeding targets by 30 per cent.