Kohl's plans to partner with retailers like grocery stores or convenience stores to lease the white space left by the roughly 300 stores it has "right-sized" over the past several years, CEO Kevin Mansell told CNBC at ICR's conference this week.
The department store has created operationally smaller, more profitable stores within its roughly 87,000-square-foot boxes. That downsizing leaves unused footage, which Mansell said would benefit from traffic-generating retailers like those that sell food.
"If we had our preference, we are going first after well-capitalized companies, and preferably ones that have high traffic in grocery and convenience," Mansell said.
The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based retailer has already identified "a whole list of partners" to roll out across a number of its stores.
"We are more apt to identify strong partners and then build a pathway with them through this pilot phase."
For potential Kohl's partners, the department store brings with it strong real estate, big parking lots and its own traffic. A food and apparel duo would be able to compete against a number of retailers employing similar strategies, like Target and even Walmart.