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Kmart testing smaller 'K-fresh' format for supercenters

Kmart is flipping several of its remaining Super Kmart supercenters to a smaller, less-service oriented food format it is calling “K-fresh.”

Several Super Kmart stores have already undergone the transition, which includes the removal of service butcher, bakery and deli departments; reductions in staff, sales floor square footage and in operating hours; and in at least some cases, changing the store banner name to Big Kmart or Kmart.

At least five of the remaining 11 Super Kmart stores — located in Tinley Park, Ill.; Roseville, Mich.; Cambridge, Ohio; Chillicothe, Ohio; and Uniontown, Pa. — have or are expected to be converted to the new format this year, according to the company.

K-fresh stores have replaced service departments with prepackaged items, and offer reduced brand variety and pack sizes on center store items. The stores by description seem similar in many ways to Target’s “PFresh” format.

Store hours have been cut from 24 hours in at least some of the locations to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. In some locations, space previously devoted to food has been put aside to accommodate distribution of Internet orders or for the company to seek new tenants.

Kmart, which began rolling out 140,000-square-foot to 190,000-square-foot Super Kmart stores in the early 1990s, has been gradually winding down that base for more than a decade. The company is a division of Sears Holdings, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Company officials declined to answer several specific questions about the format including the potential of switching other formats to the “K-fresh” model, but provided the following statement.

“At Kmart we are continuously working to meet the needs of our members and customers while aligning with changing grocery shopping trends and behaviors. We are testing a K-fresh model with a tailored selection of products from produce and everyday pantry items, to fresh bakery goods and deli items at affordable prices. We are testing this approach and gaining valuable feedback and insight from our members that will help us create an even better shopping experience.”

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