By: Mark Fitzgerald
Kmart Corp. is planning a Blue Light special, this one for newspapers: The big discount retailer soon will start buying inserts not just on Sundays but two or three times a week.
Kmart is already a huge insert player, ordering 70 million circulars every Sunday. But as the retailer with $36 billion in sales last year works to get itself out of the bankruptcy process, it will begin adding insert buys on Wednesdays and Saturdays, said new Chairman and CEO James B. Adamson. The retailer is trying to bump up customer traffic in a strategy known internally as “Pulse It.”
“We’ll [advertise] two-day sales, one-day sales, four-hour sales — and we’re going to be in the newspaper two to three times a week,” Adamson said at the Inland Press Association annual meeting here last week. All 1,827 Kmart stores will stay open at least through the holiday season. Adamson said published reports that 300 to 400 more stores will be closed are “way over” the number that eventually will be shuttered.
Adamson, a turnaround specialist who took over Kmart several weeks after it filed for bankruptcy, criticized a previous management decision to abruptly stop Sunday-circular advertising. But, even after the bankruptcy filing, Kmart paid all its bills to newspapers. “I’m not stupid,” Adamson told the Inland publishers, “I knew that if I didn’t pay, you wouldn’t carry my circulars.”
Adamson had good news for black papers as well. Kmart recently increased its advertising in 10 Spanish-language papers with a supplementlike publication called “La Vida.” It will now do something similar in black-oriented papers.