May 30, 2020
Sears to close third of remaining stores
HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL - The company that owns Sears and Kmart plans to close more than one-third of its remaining large-format stores as the beleaguered chains continue their contraction less than a year after they survived bankruptcy.

Transformco, which acquired the retailers out of bankruptcy, is set to shutter 51 Sears stores and 45 Kmart locations in the latest round of closures.

That will leave the company with 182 stores remaining, compared with 864 at also-struggling rival J.C. Penney as of February.

Sears and Kmart have closed more than 3,500 stores and cut about 250,000 jobs over the last 15 years.

The company said Thursday that it lined up $250 million in fresh financing as a lifeline while it pursues a sustainable business.

The retailers have been ailing for years, battered by digital competition, the decline of foot traffic and a lack of innovation in stores. Their previous parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2018 and emerged in February through a last-minute deal arranged by the company's longtime chairman, CEO and investor, Eddie Lampert, and his hedge fund ESL Investments.

ESL, "our owners" and "a third-party investor" contributed the new financing to support the company's operations, Transformco said.

Transformco, legally known as Transform Holdco, said Thursday it "has faced a difficult retail environment and other challenges" since that the bankruptcy concluded.

"We have been working hard to position Transformco for success by focusing on our competitive strengths and pruning operations that have struggled due to increased competition and other factors," the company said.

The latest round of liquidation sales will begin Dec. 2 and wrap up by February.

The new closings do not affect the company's recently acquired Sears Hometown stores, which specialize in home appliances, equipment and tools.

"We will endeavor to create and deliver value through a strategic combination of our better-performing retail stores and our service businesses, brands and other assets, and expect to realize a significant return on our extensive portfolio of owned and leased real estate," Transformco said.

The closures include 19 locations in California, seven of them in the Inland Empire. See story under Inland Empire.(Source: USA Today)
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