• Feb 24th 2010 at 6:39PM
  • 36
General Motors and Chrysler dealers unsuccessful in government-mediated arbitration to save their franchises from closure are being thrown a potential life saver. This one, however, doesn't say U.S.S. Government on it, but rather, U.S.S. Sears Auto Center. The nationwide retailer want to expands its Auto Center operations that focus on service and sales and dealers with physical plants but nothing to put in them might be a workable option.

The upside for Sears is not only known dealer locations that are practically built to run Auto Center operations, but having folks who know cars representing the brand. The upshot for dealers would be the chance to run a potentially profitable business supported by a major brand, on top of which they could add used car sales. The first Chrysler-dealer-turned-Sears-outlet will be Coleman Auto Group in East Windsor, New Jersey, a conversion that happens next month.

Follow the jump to read the press release on the endeavor, and who knows, perhaps Craftsman and DieHard can succeed where Chrysler and GM couldn't.

[Source: The Car Connection]


Sears Auto Centers Introduce Franchise Business

Signs Coleman Auto Group as First Independent Franchise

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., Feb. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Sears Holdings Corp. today announced the launch of a new strategic initiative for the Sears Automotive business. The Independent Sears Auto Center franchise program offers automobile dealers the opportunity to operate licensed Sears Auto Centers, bringing the Sears brand, buying power, distribution network, systems and corporate support to automotive aftermarket businesses. Coleman Auto Group of East Windsor, New Jersey, is the first dealership to take advantage of this opportunity and will open a Sears Auto Center in March 2010. Coleman Auto Group is utilizing a space formerly dedicated to its Chrysler dealership.

Grand opening date: March 27, 2010
Location: Coleman Auto Group, 917 Route 130, East Windsor, NJ 08520

With over 3000 automobile dealerships that have lost their franchise, Sears designed the new franchise program to help those dealers leverage their facilities by building a set of businesses around parts and services, over-the-counter merchandise, and previously-owned vehicle sales. The new Sears Auto Center franchise locations will provide the same products and services for automobiles, light trucks and motorcycles that are currently available at the nearly 850 company-owned Sears Auto Centers. Those products and services include:

* An extensive tire selection, including brands such as Michelin®, Goodyear®, BF Goodrich® and Bridgestone® and more
* Batteries from DieHard®, America's most preferred automotive battery
* Maintenance and repair services for consumer and commercial fleets, including: oil changes, alignments, shocks, brakes, coolant/antifreeze, air conditioning, transmissions, fuel system cleaning and more
* Custom wheels, car care products, truck boxes, fluids, floor mats, DieHard battery chargers, DieHard portable power, XCargo® carriers and more

Additionally, many of the new franchise locations will be located on properties adjacent to pre-owned vehicle and body shop operations, making it even more convenient for customers to service their existing vehicle or shop for a new vehicle.

"The Sears Auto franchise is a win for customers and a win for dealers," said Bill Jackson, Senior Vice President of Sears Holdings Corp. and President of Sears Authorized Independent Auto Centers, LLC. "For customers, Sears Auto Centers will be more convenient than ever, with more locations providing our full product and service offerings. This is also a great opportunity for dealers who are currently selling used cars to gain a brand that's nationally recognized for quality and dependability, a resource for buying high-quality auto parts and supplies, and access to a proven business model that has been tailored to their needs."

"We're thrilled to join the Sears Auto Center network. No other opportunity combined so many features that we needed as we sought to stabilize our business and position it for future growth," said Bill Kendall, of Coleman Auto Group. "Already, we've witnessed the level of support and care that Sears has invested in our success. And we are ready to work hard to leverage the strengths that Sears brings to our existing relationships with customers."

The new Sears Auto Center franchise model is available immediately to qualified dealers. Sears will work with dealers to offer these advantages:

* Strength of the Sears brand and the ability to leverage Sears marketing, web presence and social networking
* Strength of the product brands, such as DieHard and Craftsman
* The purchasing scale necessary to achieve superior pricing on:
o Product (tires, batteries, parts)
o Equipment
o Supplies
* Sears Card acceptance
* Systems and processes

"We are creating an opportunity to leverage Sears Automotive's scale, business processes and brands so that dealers can build their businesses in service, parts and used vehicles," Jackson said. "Our franchisees are great business people with years of experience in selling and servicing vehicles. They have great facilities that need to be used to their fullest. Together, we can provide each other a great opportunity to grow our businesses."

About Sears Auto Center
Sears Auto Center is a leading provider of automotive maintenance and repair services and parts, with nearly 850 locations nationwide offering a full array of passenger and light truck tires, DieHard® batteries, Craftsman® auto accessories and more. Sears has a long history as America's trusted place for car care, having offered auto parts since 1905 and service since 1931. Sears Auto Center offers customers convenient locations and hours, as well as an extensive menu of services. Sears Auto Center is a division of Sears, Roebuck and Co.

About Sears Holdings Corporation
Sears Holdings Corporation is the nation's fourth largest broadline retailer with approximately 3,900 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada. Sears Holdings is the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, home electronics and automotive repair and maintenance. Key proprietary brands include Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard, and a broad apparel offering, including such well-known labels as Lands' End, Jaclyn Smith and Joe Boxer, as well as the Apostrophe and Covington brands. It also has the Country Living collection, which is offered exclusively by Sears and Kmart. We are the nation's largest provider of home services, with more than 12 million service calls made annually. Sears Holdings Corporation operates through its subsidiaries, including Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart Corporation. For more information, visit Sears Holdings' website at www.searsholdings.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I figured the Chinese manufacturers would use Sears for service and warranty. Maybe this is the first step?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sears and Chrysler should be a good match . . . they are both stuck in the 80's. Two bad companies, do not make one good company.
        • 5 Years Ago
        FYI, the companies aren't working together, Sears is simply using a former Chrysler dealship as a service center.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jay, Sears is just awarding an Auto Center franchise to a former Chrysler dealer. Sears and Chrysler aren't merging with each other.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is an Excellent Idea! They would be smart to sell craftsman tools and guy stuff in the waiting rooms as well. Guys could shop for "more power" while their car is being worked on.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I remember the "Wheels franchise" that were a big chain of auto part stores in the early to middle 1990's.

      I don't know that I remember Western Auto
      • 5 Years Ago
      Any one who has ever worked for Sears knows what a joke this is. The company would have the oil changed on my Appliance Repair Service van at a Sears Service Center, but major repairs went to the Ford Dealer! This wasn't my decision, it was the company's! I liken this move by Sears to the scams being pulled on people who pay a "service" to stop or delay foreclosure. Sears has screwed over a lot of loyal, hard working employees over since the takeover by K-Mart, and many more customers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're obviously bitter and misinformed. I worked for Sears Home Services, too; the service vans are all underwritten by a fleet-leasing company, and THEY decide who does what kind of work on the vans. Their Ford Econolines are supposed to be serviced at Ford dealers; it's not rocket science to figure out why.

        And since you're being so ignorant, let me clue you in: Sears bought K-Mart, not the other way around. Have people been laid off? Yes. Would it have been any different at another retailer in this economy? NO.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What does this tell us all? Let me point out to you all, this move made by a giant company with years of business practice has come up with a plan to put G M/CHRY
      dealers who were given the bums rush under the Obama automotive takeover fiasco,
      a chane to not only utilize the real estate involved but actually put people back to work.
      This one move by Sears did more for the unemployed then the Obama, DEMORAT
      bail outs or the so called stimulous package.
      Keep the government out of our daily lives, they are a bunch of misfits who do not have a clue as to what our country is all about.
      I guess we have to live with this slug for awhile longer but the bottom line is he must go along with his Chicago mob in the next election.
      The man is A LIAR.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would never use Sears Auto Center. They are expensive and mediocre.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm pretty impressed at Sears for coming up with this. I've never used them for auto work, but I don't see why I wouldn't give them a shot if they were close and it made sense.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dealerships that lasted till they where lined up and shot where surviving on repair segiments of their busiess, no one wanted the overpriced cars. The aftermath proof all they accomplished was putting faithful employee's out of work, thank you big business and governmental interference! Used cars are the sales that are left, they don't depreciate 50% before you leave the lot. Why not go it with Sear's, beats nothing, that was the manifacturers offer! Good luck to those that attempt it, see you when I need to trade or get something done I don't want to do. Sear's had a car once, the Allstate, pretty good cars and they wheren't overpriced and offered good gas mileage decades before it became popular.
      Kaz Maslanka
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      No you are right, Sears sucks, I am surprised they are still in business, actually some business analysts predict they will go bankrupt in the nxt 5 years.

      i don't shop there anymore, and haven't in a long time
      • 5 Years Ago
      I used to work at a Sears Auto Center. They are the most neglected division of Sears (at least in the NorthWest), which makes this move a major surprise to me. Although they do not offer major repair services, they offer some great products. Hopefully this means that the auto centers will finally get some much needed attention and better managers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If they're operated like the Sears Automotive Center at Oakland Mall in Troy, Michigan, this project will be the demise of the auto industry! This particular location has to be the absolute WORST Sears auto center in the country! Years ago, people would be lined up to get their batteries, or tires, or shocks. Now, its an empty shell. I wouldn't trust those guys to put on a set of wiper blades!
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