Sears Holdings Corp. signed an agreement with Edwin Watts Golf Shops LLC to operate 12 golf shops inside Sears stores. The shops, ranging from 2,700 to 3,000 square feet, will be located near
Sears electronics, tools and sporting goods department.

The first in-store golf shop is slated to open at Sears in Murray, Utah, by May 31. Others are planned to open soon after at Sears stores in Hicksville, NY; Falls Church, Va., and Friendswood, Texas. Another eight shops are slated to open at Sears in Maryland, Illinois, New York, Florida and Kentucky.

Edwin Watts Golf Shops, based in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., sells golf equipment and accessories at 70 U.S. stores, mainly in the Southeast. It is owned by an affiliate of private investment firm Sun Capital Partners Inc.

The first Edwin Watts Golf Shop is scheduled to open in the Murray, UT Sears location by May 31, 2010, and will be followed by openings at Sears store locations in Hicksville, NY; Falls Church, VA and Friendswood, TX.  Following the initial openings, eight additional Edwin Watts Golf Shops are slated to open at Sears store locations in Maryland, Illinois, New York, Florida and Kentucky.

“This first-of-its-kind partnership with Sears is a significant development in the golf industry as it expands the access of service-oriented golf retail to all levels of golfers, while helping to drive new players to the game,” said John Watson, Chief Executive Officer, Edwin Watts Golf Shops.  “We chose to partner with Sears based on our strategic need for a mall-based retailer with a national footprint, as well as affiliations with leading brands such as Craftsman Tools and Nordic Track, which strongly align with the golfer demographic.”

“Sears Holdings is very pleased to welcome Edwin Watts Golf Shops into our Sears locations.  We believe they are the perfect complementary retailer to our expansive sporting goods business and we look forward to seeing them surprise and delight customers with their first-class array of products and customer service,” said Jeff Stollenwerck, Sears Holdings president of Real Estate.

Each Edwin Watts Golf Shop housed inside a Sears location is designed as a specialty store format with footprints ranging from 2,700-3,000 sq. ft., while offering the familiar layout and shopping experience as the company’s free-standing golf shops. The shops, which will be strategically positioned near other major Sears departments (electronics, tools, appliances, sporting goods), will be staffed by Edwin Watts Golf associates, all with deep experience and training in golf equipment and technologies, the golf industry, professional fitting and customer service †key differentiators for the Edwin Watts Golf brand, and the “store-within-a-store” concept.

Each store will feature select product assortments in golf equipment & apparel, electronics and related golf accessories from top brands such as Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, FootJoy, adidas Golf, Cleveland, Cobra, Adams, Wilson, Champions Tour and others.  The shops will present consumers with a service-based, interactive golf experience showcasing product testing, via an in-store putting green and hitting bay, game improvement clinics, expert golf club and golf ball performance fitting, the latest equipment technology, apparel styles, other innovations and much more.  In addition, customers who carry the Sears credit card will have the ability to use their credit card for in-store Edwin Watts Golf Shop purchases at the participating locations.

Adds Watson, “The partnership between Sears and Edwin Watts Golf Shops presents a major advantage for today’s leading golf equipment companies, offering a new channel of distribution within a retail brand that offers tremendous equity value and global recognition.  As the golf industry is seeking opportunities to increase participation and interest across all demographics, this retail model will allow a new audience of consumers to experience golf each time they visit their local Sears store.”