Kohl’s footprint grows
Kohl’s is having a grand opening for six new stores in the Bay Area today as part of an aggressive expansion plan to strengthen its California presence.
The opening of the 30 new stores, all of which were former Mervyns, increases the total number of Kohl’s locations to 121 in California. In August, the Wisconson-based retailer held job fairs to find almost 1,000 workers for the six Bay Area stores. Most of those positions have been filled, said company spokeswoman Sydney Hofer. However, people can continue to check out www.kohlscareers.com to see if jobs open up in the future.
Ribbon-cutting ceremonies will take place at the redesigned stores at 6:45 a.m, with openings at 7 a.m., an hour earlier than regular store hours. A “soft” opening for the stores occurred Sunday.
Kohl’s acquired the properties as a result of taking over store leases that were once part of the Hayward-based Mervyns retail chain that went bankrupt last year.
“They were competing head-to-head in so many different markets,” said Jeff Green, a Mill Valley-based retail consultant.
That former competition can now work to Kohl’s advantage, he said
“It’s really picking up the same customers but maybe a tad broader. Kohl’s has a little bit broader base than Mervyns was,” said Green.
While Mervyns mainstay was shoppers looking for value-priced merchandise, Kohl’s tends to draw both bargain seeking shoppers and those who go to traditional department stores, he said.
Green said taking over the leases from Mervyns amounted to an “opportunistic” move by Kohl’s, which first opened stores in California in 2003. A year later, the first Kohl’s stores opened in the Bay Area. “They wanted to get a bigger presence in California,’ he said.
Does it make sense for Kohl’s to roll out 30 grand openings all at once during hard economic times marked by foreclosures and rising unemployment?
“They really are about price and if you look at that sector, that’s doing well — Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Ross,” said Green. “There are economies of scales of coming in and opening all at once. It’s effective from a marketing standpoint and it was effective from a real-estate standpoint.”
Publicly held Kohl’s stock price rose 2.7 percent to close at $56.39 on Tuesday.
During the month of August, Kohl’s same-store sales opened a year or more increased 0.2 percent from August 2008 while same-store sales for Pleasanton-based Ross Stores posted a 6 percent gain from a year ago. Both retailers fared better than same-store sales in an index of major retailers that fell 2.9 percent overall from Aug. 2008, Thomsom Reuters reported.
Kohl’s stores will likely bring in some Macy’s shoppers in addition to people who shop at discounters, said Kit Yarrow, psychology department chair and professor of psychology and business at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
“It was sad having Mervyns leave. It’s been a part of the community for so long, but consumers have shopping to do. I think consumers are going to be very happy to have Kohl’s come in there, to have another option,” she said.
Having a grand opening close to the start of the holiday season is a good move, even though the economy is hurting.
“People are going to be shopping … to save money,” said Yarrow.