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In Rare Bright Spot, Sears Scrubology Concept to Hit 91 Stores

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Sears is expanding Scrubology, a store within a store concept intended to help revitalize the struggling retailer. Scrubology targets workers in the healthcare industry by offering apparel and footwear under stylish new and traditional brands, including the namesake Scrubology label. The company currently offers it in 39 locations and is opening 52 more in major markets within its Kmart and Sears stores.

Sears appears to have tapped into an underserved segment. Approximately 11.5 million people work in healthcare, and the industry is expected to add 5.7 million jobs by 2020. The Scrubology concept allows healthcare professional to express their personal fashion through their work attire, and has proved popular. In the 4th quarter, results met or exceeded expectations, according to Marketwatch. The success is a rare bright spot for Sears and parent company Sears Holdings Co., which has struggled to align expenses and cash flow and has closed hundreds of stores.

“Sears Holdings is pleased thus far with the performance of the Scrubology concept. This venture with Work ‘N Gear and the development of this unique ‘store-within-a-store’ concept has allowed us to provide additional value to our customers,” said Dave Schuvie, vice president, Licensed Businesses for Sears Holdings.

The targeted market segment of healthcare workers is young and affluent, a valued group for Sears. For example, the average annual salary of an x-ray technician is $53,000, compared to a median salary for the US of $27,000.

Brands targeting healthcare workers tend to be lower profile than Scrubology, which seeks to add a touch of chic to drag hospital garb. The website features flashy attractive young workers in tight fitting scrubs. The company is also using social networking such as Facebook and Twitter to build enthusiasm, and has over 24,000 likes.

The concept is a partnership with Work ‘N Gear, which focuses on providing affordable and high quality work related attire and operates 42 retail locations as well as store within a store. Store within a store is trend that has been growing during the recession, with Sears taking a page from the JCP playbook, and also Best Buy’s model. JCP is reorganizing its stores around a “Main Street” layout, with 80 to 100 branded stores within each physical building. The concept is believed to offer more opportunities for building identification with in-house brands, and maximizes potential for collaborations. It reduces clutter and creates a more pleasant shopping experience.

Sears Holdings Co. has approximately 2300 stores in the United States and Canada. The company posted a $2.4 billion loss for the fourth quarter on revenue of $12.4 billion, though much of the loss can be attributed to one-time charges. Hopes for a turnaround have been pegged to CEO Lou D’Ambrosio, a technology veteran with a proven track record. The company intends to continue cutting costs and streamlining its image, while raising cash by selling its valuable legacy real estate.

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