Sears Is the New Abercrombie?

March 27, 2014 by Trey Thoelcke

sweaters
Source: Thinkstock
Sears Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) on Thursday introduced Now + Here, a new fast-fashion shop within its stores and on its website that aims to offer monthly deliveries of trendy items. Because the first thing you think of when you hear the name Sears is … fashion?

This is the newest effort in the company’s ongoing, and so far unsuccessful, turnaround. Recently the once-iconic retailer has been spinning off some of its businesses, and its Shop Your Way program is part of a new member-centric focus. With Now + Here, the goal is to bring new fashion trends from design studios to store shelves much more quickly and to increase the rate of cycling through new designs.

That puts it in the same space as teen retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO). But is that the way for Sears to go? Mall-based, brick-and-mortar stores are not exactly thriving these days, thanks to the sluggish economic recovery and to shifting consumer preferences to sources like Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). Both Abercrombie and Sears made the 24/7 Wall St. list of retailers closing the most stores.

Now + Here is scheduled to launch in the second week of April and it will offer an assortment of fashion tops, bottoms, cardigans and vests that will range in price from $20 to $42.

Has Eddie Lampert, the hedge fund manager and CEO of Sears, found the secret to making Sears an unstoppable retail goliath again? Seems unlikely.