Sears offering auto center franchises to former GM and Chrysler dealers

Bankruptcies at General Motors and Chrysler have left thousands of dealers around the country without a franchise contract, but an unlikely source is aiming to but those dealers back in business. Sears has announced the launch of the Independent Sears Auto Center franchise program, giving some of the dealerships left behind by GM and Chrysler a new lease on life.

Sears says it has already signed up one former Chrysler dealer -- Coleman Auto Group in East Windsor, New Jersey - and is hopeful many more will take advantage of the Independent Sears Auto Center franchise program. The program is also being extended to dealerships that have already turned to the used car business.

"The Sears Auto franchise is a win for customers and a win for dealers," said Bill Jackson, Senior Vice President of Sears Holdings Corp. and President of Sears Authorized Independent Auto Centers, LLC. "For customers, Sears Auto Centers will be more convenient than ever, with more locations providing our full product and service offerings. This is also a great opportunity for dealers who are currently selling used cars to gain a brand that's nationally recognized for quality and dependability, a resource for buying high-quality auto parts and supplies, and access to a proven business model that has been tailored to their needs."

The Sears franchise will allow former dealers to sell a number of name brand tires - such as Michelin, Goodyear and Bridgestone - as well as Sears' line of DieHard batteries. Normal operations will include maintenance and repair services.