Kohl's overhauls Sonoma store brand

Kohl's (NYSE:KSS) is about to introduce big changes to its Sonoma store brand with a multimillion dollar relaunch—the culmination of an 18-month project.

"Sonoma underwent a comprehensive reimagining, from the product to the environment, to the marketing communications," Michael Gilbert, exec VP of product development, told Women's Wear Daily.

"We spent millions of dollars," said Michelle Gass, chief merchandise and customer officer. "The entire merchant organization had to be on board."

The effort is part of Kohl's "Greatness Agenda," a multiyear strategic plan that has already produced a new loyalty program complete with mobile wallet, small store formats, brand partnerships and enhanced beauty departments.

"The first pillar is amazing product—offering our customers things they need and will love. Sonoma checks both of those very well," Gass said.

While the retailer has made an effort to add more name brands to its merchandise mix, private label remains a strong focus. National brands were 52 percent of Kohl's business in 2015, with private and exclusive brands the other 48 percent. Sonoma is its largest store brand, exceeding $1 billion in annual sales, according to WWD.

Sonoma has been updated with a more cohesive style identity across departments: men's, women's and kids apparel; footwear; and home.

Kohl's new small store initiative includes seven locations slated for 2016, and the new Off-Aisle discount outlets. There are also plans to open 12 Fila outlet stores in collaboration with that brand. Could Sonoma branded stores be in Kohl's future? Gass didn't rule it out.

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