The Not-So-Little Six

The Big Three may have a majority of the mass market in their pockets, but other chains are also important regional players.

Byline: D.M.P.

NEW YORK -- The Big Three may have a majority of the mass market in their pockets, but other chains are also important regional players. And on the national front, Sears has rebounded since implementing a new merchandising strategy in 1993.
Here, some key players in the mass arena.

Sears Merchandise Group, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

1993 sales: $29.5 billion. Net income: $751.6 million.

Total revenues for Sears, Roebuck & Co. were $50.8 billion, including the Allstate Insurance group and its Corporate Business unit.

Last year was the most profitable in Sears' 107-year history. The company completed a corporate repositioning, got out of the domestic catalog business, closed unprofitable stores and mounted a $40 million advertising campaign to promote its updated apparel businesses.

Apparel posted gains of 14.9 percent over 1992. Sears continues to remodel stores and also plans to launch a bath and body treatment line late next year.

Caldor Corp., Norwalk, Conn.

1993 sales: $2.4 billion. Net income: $33.2 million.

A key upscale discounter in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, operating 150 stores. Caldor has been remodeling its stores since 1989. Last year, it opened 14 stores and remodeled 19 others. It plans to open 12 to 14 stores in 1994.

The retailer has improved apparel assortments to reflect more fashion-conscious merchandise. Softlines have been gradually building up steam, and improved to 41 percent of sales in 1993. In 1987, they were 35 percent of total sales. The company estimates the category will hit 43 percent of sales in 1995.

Ames Department Stores Inc., Rocky Hill, Conn.

1993 sales: $2.1 billion. Net earnings: $10.8 million.

Ames emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in December 1992.

The company operates 308 discount stores in 17 eastern states and the District of Columbia. In June, the company announced that it had named a new president and chief executive, Joseph Ettore, who held those posts at Jamesway Corp. Ettore is known as a merchandising specialist, and said he would be focusing on Ames's apparel as a key area of improvement. Women's apparel is the only product category that exceeds 10 percent of total sales, with for 13.3 percent.

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