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Kohl's shrinking stores find new tenant: Planet Fitness gyms

Some shrunken Kohl's stores are getting a new neighbor: Planet Fitness gyms.

Kohl's, which is on a mission to shrink its biggest department stores, said it will lease or sell the newly empty space at 10 locations to Planet Fitness, but may increase that number in the future. The new neighbor won't share doors with Kohl's, but it hopes that those who frequent Planet Fitness will also stop at Kohl's to buy fitness trackers, workout tights or sneakers. The companies plan to promote each other to their customers.

The company has a similar deal with no-frills German grocer Aldi, opening the grocery stores next door to Kohl's. Planet Fitness said its Kohl's-adjacent gyms will be between 20,000 square feet and 25,000 square feet. But don't expect gym tie-ins at other stores: Target's CEO recently nixed the idea when a reporter asked about the Kohl's and Planet Fitness deal at an event in New York.

Kohl's has also been working to increase the brands in stores and getting rid of ones that aren't connecting with shoppers. The strategy seems to be working: Kohl's reported Tuesday that sales rose 1 percent at established stores during the holiday shopping season. Shares of Kohl's Corp. soared nearly 8 percent Tuesday afternoon.

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Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based Kohl's, which has more than 1,100 stores, also reported that its fourth-quarter profit fell 42 percent to $272 million, lowered by taxes, store closings and other costs. Its adjusted earnings per share came to $2.24, beating expectations by Wall Street analysts. Revenue fell 3 percent to $6.5 billion in the three months ending Feb. 2.

Besides the gyms, Kohl's said it is expanding its partnership with online retail giant Amazon, selling Kindle tablets, Echo voice-activated devices and other gadgets in more than 200 stores. Amazon already had a presence in about 100 Kohl's stores, but Kohl's is moving away from Amazon shops inside Kohl's where Amazon workers helped shoppers. Instead, there will be a dedicated Amazon section in Kohl's where customers can help themselves.

"It will be more in a self-serve environment, which is how our customers are used to shopping us," said Kohl's CEO Michelle Gass.

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