Retail colossus Sears, Roebuck & Co is planning a major boost to its marketing budget as part of a company-wide revamp designed to double profits by 2004.

The chain wants to reposition itself as a new type of retailer, adding features of discount stores to its existing department store format. However, the plan also includes 4,900 layoffs, some 22% of the company’s salaried workforce.

Unveiling the scheme, senior vp–marketing David Selby announced that Sears, which already has a marketing budget of around $1.5 billion a year, will boost its spend on brand advertising by 47%, multicultural marketing by 19% and relationship marketing by 15%. Promotional broadcast advertising is due to climb 3%, but expenditure on preprints will fall 8%.

Sears wants to concentrate on the 36 million households that are home to its best customers, not least the 5.4m which supply 33% of its revenue.

In addition, more emphasis will be placed on direct mail and email campaigns, Selby revealed, as well as increased multicultural efforts, including Spanish-language marketing.

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