As part of the evolution of consumers’ preference, American brands such as Sears, Blockbuster and Woolworth, are disappearing in the United States. But, oddly enough, they are expanding and growing in their neighboring country, Mexico, as business groups and investors have noticed these brands are aspirational for many Mexican citizens, and actually becoming profitable.
Some U.S. retail brands have found in Mexico a clearer path and a nurturing market as these stores are not faced with much competition and online shopping is still on its initial phase. This situation has bolstered the presence of Sears, Blockbuster and Woolworth stores all over Mexico.
Sears in Mexico, for example, is controlled by Grupo Sanborns SAB, which is currently owned by Mexico’s richest man, Carlos Slim. This brand has increased its sales in this country and there are plans to open up more stores, adding to their almost 90 establishments. This stands in contrast to its status in the U.S. which has seen the closing of 61 stores in the last fiscal year.
Here in Mérida, Yucatán, there are 4 Sears Department Stores: Downtown, Plaza Altabrisa, Plaza Las Américas and Gran Plaza.
Blockbuster Video was given a new opportunity last year when Ricardo Salinas Pliego, owner of Grupo Electra SAB and 5th richest person in Mexico, decided to buy 300 stores in Mexico. Although multiple affordable online video platforms are available in Mexico, people still visit these stores to rent video games and buy cheap DVDs and Blu-rays.
Here in Mérida there are 5 Blockbuster stores still open.
Woolworth stores, which went out of business in U.S. more than 20 years ago in the 1990s, have actually seen an increase in sales by 5% annually in Mexico, according to Bloomberg. The company is planning to open 3 new locations in Mexico by 2016, adding to their 30 stores located in 15 states of Mexico.
It might seem strange but, on the bright side, the Mexican market has given these bankrupt or fading brands a second chance, an opportunity to bounce back or gain time to plan a different strategy in order to regain their original markets.
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