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Sears May Sell Brands to Outside Stores

Hoffman Estates, Ill. Edward Lampert, the financier who leads Sears Holdings, hinted Thursday at a plan that would allow some of the chain’s most popular and exclusive brands be sold at other stores.

In a public letter to investors, chairman Edward Lampert said Sears may expand locations where household names such as Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard are sold outside of the company's Sears and Kmart stores.

Lampert's letter, which was released along with the company's fourth-quarter earnings results, capped another year of anemic sales inside the once-venerable chain's 3,800 stores. It also shows how Sears is trying to revive itself even at the risk of losing shoppers to other retailers.

Its profit skidded to $426 million during the three months that ended Feb. 2, down 47% from $811 million during the same period last year. Revenue slipped to $15.07 billion from $16.18 billion. Same-store sales fell 4.5%.

For the year, Sears suffered a similar slowdown, earning $826 million, down more than 44% from its 2006 profit of $1.5 billion.