HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., July 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As consumers continue to shop with a bargain-driven mentality, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq:SHOS) (the "Company") is providing entrepreneurs across the nation with an opportunity to serve these consumers with the launch of the Sears Outlet franchise opportunity. The franchise opportunity is now available nationwide, with the first three franchised stores recently opened in Houston, Texas by local owner Stephen Stark. In addition to the three Sears Outlet locations, Stark was also the first franchisee to open stores for each of the Company's three other store formats. He currently owns 12 Sears Home Appliance Showrooms, one Sears Appliance & Hardware Store and one Sears Hometown Store. "It's not often that you get to own your own business with Sears on the outside of the building, so when the franchise opportunity arose, I jumped on it," said Stark, who began his career with the Sears brand in 1990 as a store manager. "There is tremendous value in each of the store formats. Plus, the ongoing support from the home office allows me the time to focus on keeping all of my current stores healthy while still pursuing new opportunities and expanding my portfolio." The retail franchise is continuing to attract business-savvy, experienced, multi-unit operators seeking to diversify their portfolio and offer high-value brands at rock-bottom prices. Sears Outlet stores offer a unique business opportunity with valuable brand recognition for entrepreneurs interested in a scalable model. "The Sears Outlet Stores have been providing customers with convenience and accessibility to great products they need and want at tremendous value for over 45 years," said Bruce Johnson, president and CEO of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores. "The format is quite successful and franchising select stores is a logical next step in its evolution. With this new opportunity, we're giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to serve customers with their own stores and with the support of a successful national retailer."