HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.-Like a massive, lumbering freight train, Sears, Roebuck and Co. has momentum. The world's largest tire and battery retailer has been posting record tire sales month after month since it realigned its automotive group last December.
The company announced June 6 that it ``had its best May ever in tire sales,'' which helped boost total domestic store revenues to $2.05 billion for the four-week period ended June 1. That figure represents a 14-percent gain over the year-earlier period, Sears reported.
The company declined to break out figures for tire sales alone.
``One of the best things we've ever had is momentum,'' a spokesman said. ``And momentum really does energize an organization like Sears.''
Sears previously had reported that its tire sales set a record for the month of February as well. Prior to that, company Chairman and CEO Arthur C. Martinez had noted the ``snowstorms and the bitter cold of January'' helped boost tire and battery sales in that month.
``Sears has stated publicly that automotive is one of the areas at Sears that we are ready to try to grow-and grow rapidly,'' the spokesman said.
To do that, the company reorganized its automotive group, creating a distinct ``tire division'' that encompassed about 775 Sears Auto Centers, 120 Tire America and 150 National Tire Warehouse outlets. Its Western Auto Supply Co. and Parts America stores have been organized into a separate di-vision with a greater emphasis on selling automotive parts.
The realignment has improved the company's distribution, purchasing and marketing efficiency, the spokesman said.
``But that doesn't sell more tires,'' he added.
What does, however, is Sears' renewed commitment to selling tires. As part of the same division, Sears Auto Centers, Tire America and NTW locations can more easily adopt successful techniques and strategies from each other, improving the entire organization, the spokesman explained.
``In essence, we're learning from ourselves,'' he said.
The company also has tweaked its customer service techniques and point-of-sale displays, the spokesman said. The changes, coupled with Sears' traditionally strong television presence, are at the heart of the company's improved sales.
``That's what has been driving our business,'' he said. ``We're executing better at the store level with our customers.''