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Sears aims to lift appliance sales with branding

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Sears, Roebuck and Co., looking to compete better amid heavy competition in appliances, is launching a line of table-top products and testing sales of washers and refrigerators at a few new stand-alone stores dedicated solely to appliances.

A Kenmore Elite Oasis HE washer and dryer in an undated file photo. Sears, Roebuck and Co., looking to compete better amid heavy competition in appliances, is launching a line of table-top products and testing sales of washers and refrigerators at a few new stand-alone stores dedicated solely to appliances. REUTERS/Sears Holdings/Handout

Sears unveiled a new brand positioning called “Simplify” at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday in hopes of emphasizing that its proprietary Kenmore appliances can help make life easier.

The move follows the launch of a new marketing campaign for the entire Sears chain, with ads carrying the tagline “Sears. Where it begins,” aimed at attracting new shoppers and prompting the current ones to spend more money.

“The focus is on innovation that simplifies,” Tina Settecase, general manager for Sears appliances, said about the appliance branding effort in a May 4 interview at company headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

She added that Kenmore was launching more than 20 new appliances, including a line of table-top products such as blenders and toaster ovens, at the Las Vegas show, as well as unveiling a refrigerator and range in a reddish concept color.

Sears, a unit of Sears Holdings Corp. SHLD.O, is the largest U.S. retailer of appliances but faces aggressive competition from other retailers such as Home Depot Inc.

Last week, the company said first-quarter same-store sales fell 2.4 percent at Sears stores, hurt by weakness in appliances.

Settecase also said Sears was testing the free-standing concept stores that sell appliances in some upscale areas. About three of these pilot stores are already open in Houston.

“They are serving a customer who doesn’t want to go in a mall,” Settecase said.

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