Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

Sears, the store that changed America, declares bankruptcy

Sears, the store that changed America, declares bankruptcy

Sears Holdings Corp is planning to close up to 150 of its department and discount stores and keep at least another 300 open as part of a plan to restructure under U.S. bankruptcy protection, people familiar with the matter said Friday.

The chain, which comprised 863 mall-based stores and an additional 1,200 retail locations in the year 2000, had 866 Sears and Kmart stores as of August 4 and expected to close 149 of them in the second half, according to a September 13 filing.

In March, Toys R Us announced it was shuttering all of its USA stores while other big names such as Macy's and JC Penney have also been forced to close numerous locations and lay off workers.

As of May, there were fewer than 900 Sears stores, which is down from a 2012 peak of 4,000 stores.

The question now is whether a smaller version of the company that once towered over the American retail landscape can remain viable or whether the iconic brand will be forced out of business.

Sears already decimated stock tanked further Monday, closing at 31 cents per share, down about 24 percent.

A large portion of the stores, according to the court filing made in NY, could also be purchased in a bankruptcy auction by a Florida hedged fund controlled by Lampert.

The 125-year-old company, which has not turned a profit since 2010, had a $134 million debt payment due Monday that it previously reported it can not cover.

Brookfield now will have to find a new use for Natick's Sears, but when the retailer downsized its Natick Mall store by about one-third earlier this year, restaurant chain Dave & Buster's quickly filled the void.

"We anticipated these changes and reorganized in light of them, but have yet to achieve the results that we desire".

Lampert has been criticized for maintaining his distance from Sears as the company struggled, visiting headquarters only about once a year for the annual shareholder meeting.

Sears is 132 years old, but is just another retailer in recent years that has filed for bankruptcy, including Sports Authority, Toys R Us, Radio Shack, etc. Its management tried to compete by closing stores and cutting costs.

Launched as a mail order company in 1892, Sears eventually grew to more than 3,500 stores nationwide.

While local customers are disappointed their Kmart is closing, a majority of those leaving the store on Monday were more upset about the pharmacy within the store closing.

Edward S. Lampert has stepped down from his role as CEO of the company, effective immediately.

Lampert had pledged hed lead Sears comeback after buying the company for $11 billion in 2005.

Sears employs about 89,000 people and their fate remains uncertain.

Back between the two world wars, the Sears catalog sold kits for building houses. In many cases, the Sears liquidation sale prices are along the lines of what shoppers have seen regularly in weekly circulars and special sales events.

There is a Sears Hometown store in Atchison, Kansas.

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