Sears Consolidating Stores - Twice

Sears Consolidating Stores

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HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL. – Sears Holdings is reportedly in the process of closing 132 locations and laying off over 7,000 employees.

The figures, posted on the investment analysis website Seeking Alpha last month, were compiled from liquidation sale notices sent to local media, and by a survey of reporters and store and mall managers.

At least 63 Kmart stores, 34 Sears stores, and 34 Sears Auto Centers are marked for closure this quarter, the report indicated, along with a Kmart distribution center and a Sears product repair facility, resulting in 7,048 pink slips. The hardest hit regions include Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The actions follows the shutdowns of 96 locations during the first half of the current fiscal year and reflect a stepped-up pace from the 93 closures in all of 2013, the website reported.

The tabulations were raised higher by author Mitch Nolen after Sears labeled an initial report inaccurate. Sears didn’t provide corrected figures for either tally, noting only that store-count totals will be released, as usual, with the next quarterly earnings report.

The local media advisories indicated that the closures are part of an effort to “reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” Nolen reported. The targeted properties include Sears’ King of Prussia, Pa., store, located in the country’s largest indoor shopping mall, which was sublet to Dick’s Sporting Goods and the Primark discount apparel chain. Sears closed its flagship State Street Chicago store last April.

At the company’s annual shareholders meeting in May, chairman/CEO Edward Lampert reiterated plans to continue shutting or subleasing underperforming Sears and Kmart stores, noting that “the world has shifted” and “closing stores is going to be a part of our future. … We think you don’t need 2,000 stores to relevant in the United States.”

More recently Lampert loaned the company $400 million through his privately held hedge fund, ESL Investments, and is looking to raise another $625 million through an offering of unsecured notes and stock warrants in what analysts believe is an effort to calm anxious suppliers.

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