HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., April 2, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq:SHOS) is proud to announce that its franchisee Tony Lutfi has been named a 2014 Most Valuable Performer (MVP) by Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine. Each year, the industry trade publication recognizes the power operators, innovators, and creative thinkers that have demonstrated exceptional performance in building their businesses, growing their brands and serving their communities. With more than 100 multi-unit franchisees nominated this year for 11 categories, Lutfi was chosen for the Multi-Brand Growth Leadership division. Lutfi and his partners of Marlu Investment Group own 17 Sears Home Appliance Showrooms; three Sears Appliance & Hardware Stores; nine Sears Outlet Stores; 53 Arby's; 44 Church's Chicken; 21 Jack in the Box; five Little Caesars; and five Sizzlers throughout Arizona, California, Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Washington. "What Tony has been able to achieve in franchising is truly inspiring," stated Scott Nichols, director of franchise business development at Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores. "With nearly 160 stores across six brands, he's done an amazing job leading his team to meet the high standards he has set fourth for his customers. We're honored to have Tony in our family and are proud to see him recognized amongst industry peers." After immigrating to the United States from Lebanon, Lutfi began working as a cook at Jack in the Box, while attending college in Northern California. He quickly ascended the ranks and evolved his career to include management opportunities with Rax Roast Beef and Arby's, ultimately becoming a director of operations for a large franchisee. His first dip into franchise ownership began in the early '90s as a franchisee of Arby's and Long John Silver's with five restaurants in Northern California. As his portfolio evolved, Lutfi chose to move out of his comfort zone—the food industry—and joined the Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores' family in July 2011. With only 27 franchise locations at the time of his purchase, much of the Company's franchise growth has been greatly influenced by Lutfi's decision to invest in the brand. As several multi-unit franchisees have since followed his lead and purchased multi-unit markets, this direction dovetailed perfectly with the retailer's strategy of growing through multi-unit owners. Today, the chain has grown to 198 franchise locations with 18 of its 34 owners being multi-unit operators. Lutfi and other recipients will be awarded during the 13th annual Multi-Unit Franchising Conference, which takes place April 23-25 in Las Vegas. In addition, they will receive an exclusive profile in Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine and a feature on http://www.mufranchisee.com. About Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc . (Nasdaq:SHOS) is a national retailer primarily focused on selling home appliances, lawn and garden equipment, tools and hardware. As of February 1, 2014, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. and its dealers and franchisees operated 1,260 stores across all 50 states as well as in Puerto Rico and Bermuda. In addition to merchandise, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc . provide consumers with access to a full suite of services, including home delivery, installation and extended service contracts. Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc . operates through two segments—the Sears Hometown and Hardware segment and the Sears Outlet segment. The Sears Hometown and Hardware segment's stores are designed to provide customers with in-store and online access to a wide selection of national brands of home appliances, lawn and garden equipment, tools, sporting goods and household goods, depending on the particular store. The Sears Outlet stores are designed to provide customers with in-store and online access to purchase new, one-of-a-kind, out-of-carton, discontinued, obsolete, used, reconditioned, overstocked and scratched and dented products across a broad assortment of merchandise categories, including home appliances, apparel, mattresses, sporting goods, tools and lawn and garden equipment at prices that are significantly lower than manufacturers' suggested list prices. For more information contact: Jayne Levy, Fishman Public Relations, at (847) 945-1300 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the corporate website at www.shos.com .