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The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Kmart - which has been cutting costs and closing hundreds of stores - has renovated one of its stores, in Des Plaines, Illinois, trying to present a new image of its capabilities.

The store, according to the Journal, "introduced a modest grocery section with meat and fresh produce like avocados and boxes of raspberries. Lowered aisle heights allow customers to see new department signs from across the store, and the layout was made to look more spacious by widening the aisles ... The store, on a busy road lined with strip malls and fast-food restaurants, is a test site for possible upgrades to the chain’s better-performing branches, said Kelly Cook, Kmart’s chief marketing officer."

The store also "is testing a free personal shopping program called Shoparazzi. Through it, customers can place an online order for pickup - even asking for items Kmart doesn’t stock but which a personal shopper could acquire."

Cook would not say how much the remodeling cost, but did say that more are planned before the end of the year.

“We’re starting here,” Cook tells the Journal. “In the next couple of weeks we’re really going to drill down to understand every single aspect.”
KC's View:
I hate to be a cynic, but I'm not buying.

In so many ways, this sounds a little like just a couple of years ago when RadioShack started talking about reinventing itself - it managed to renovate a few stores and do a couple of good commercials, but the promises were a lot bigger than the delivery. And we know how that all turned out.

Kmart has to renovate a lot more than just a few stores ... it has to change its culture, its image, and its financials ... and this is just not going to happen. No way. No how.