How good does this show look?
How good does this show look?
Written by: Francine Kopun Retail Reporter
Shoppers across Canada are getting a peek at the new Sears today, between the pages of a glossy, 24-page fashion magazine featuring fedoras, caftans and maxi-skirts.
“It not only speaks to our refreshed sense of style, but also to the changes we are making throughout our stores. Today, when you come into Sears, you will notice these changes include a better, simpler shopping experience and finding exactly what you’re looking for, at competitive prices,” Calvin McDonald, president and CEO, Sears Canada Inc., writes in the premiere issue.
McDonald, who took the helm at Sears Canada last year, is trying to reposition the retailer to increase sales and profitability and meet the challenge of new competition from heavy hitter discount retailer Target, which plans to open up to 135 discount stores in Canada beginning in 2013.
McDonald is focused on improving customer relations with new training for sales associates, de-cluttering stores and improving merchandise.
“Great retailers have retail rhythm. We’ve lost that rhythm. We’ve got to get it back,” he says.
Especially since Target — as the name implies — is focused. The retailer of cheap and cheerful fashion and housewares is popular with an important demographic – new moms. Last fall, Target stoked a run on stores in the U.S. with a capsule collection of clothes, accessories, housewares and outdoor goods by the Italian fashion house Missoni.
In February, Target grabbed headlines with a pop-up store in Toronto’s fashion district, featuring a limited line of clothing by Jason Wu, the Taipei-born designer who made the chiffon dress Michelle Obama wore on her first night as First Lady.
The Sears book makes it clear that Sears intends to tangle with Target on the fashion front. The magazine is not your typical Sears flyer – it’s glitzy and large-format, more Holt Renfrew or Fashion Week than suburban-wear circa last century.
It includes fashion-forward looks put together with separates by Sears trend director Cynthia Florek, pairing floral scarves, coloured jeans and flats for chic soccer moms and maxi-skirts and fedoras for the younger crowd.
“There was a definite decision to separate it out from what we normally do,” said Vincent Power, divisional vice-president, corporate affairs and communications for Sears Canada Inc.
“We have great value, but we may not be doing a great job of communicating it to Canadians.”
Retail expert Wendy Evans, president of Evans and Company Consultants, says Sears has traditionally aimed for the mid-segment of the market.
She says Sears is changing – the core stores have been spruced up, clothing collections have been edited down and the Jessica brand – an inhouse line of clothing and accessories – is improving.
Communicating that change to the public is the next hurdle.
“You’re changing your position in the market and that doesn’t happen overnight,” said Evans.
Target will have a natural advantage when it launches in Canada, she added. The novelty factor alone will draw crowds.
“Everybody will be kicking the tires.”
Look! report began arriving at Canadian homes in newspapers and mailboxes on Tuesday. Sears typically delivers flyers to 3-4 million households across Canada, says Power.
Lined with elegant princess seams, this frock’s simple bodice is a perfect match for its ornately embroidered hem. By Corey Lynn Calter.
Cynthia Rowley’s pleated, deep-v midi is crafted from the smoothest silk and steeped in a shade that zings.
Draped wisps of tulle swathe Anna Sui’s fluffed party-frock from sweetheart neckline to embroidered hem.