Stern's, which is part of Campeau Corp. of Toronto, a retail conglomerate, has closed five stores in the Philadelphia area so far. The other shuttered stores are in Moorestown Mall, Granite Run Mall in Media, the Plaza at King of Prussia and in Northeast Philadelphia.
The Oxford Valley location is the first for which a replacement tenant has been found. However, retail sources said Sears also is looking at the vacated Stern's space on Cottman Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia.
Sears officials in Philadelphia would not comment yesterday on their plans at Oxford Valley Mall, and the public-relations office at Sears' Chicago headquarters did not return telephone calls.
Over the last two years Sears has moved aggressively to update its stores. In 1987, it replaced an older store in Abington with a new one in Willow Grove Park. Last year, Sears closed its Millbourne store and opened a new one on 69th Street in Upper Darby.
The store in Oxford Valley is less than five miles from another Sears in Neshaminy Mall. However, Sears apparently has no plans to close the Neshaminy store, which is said to be very successful.
Sears launched a new merchandising strategy last month, replacing its frequent promotions with what it calls "everyday low pricing." In the first sign that the strategy is working, Sears on Monday reported that its first- quarter profits from continuing operations had increased 56 percent from a year earlier.
John R. Kramer, regional merchandise manager for Sears, said the Philadelphia-area stores' results compared with Sears' results nationally.
"We are very pleased," he said. "We had a great March. What we are seeing is what we thought we would - a steady flow of customers who we are better able to serve that when we pick up sales by running promotions."