Sears aims to close up to 150 stores in bankruptcy
Sears aims to close up to 150 stores in bankruptcy
Sears, the Amazon of its day, files for bankruptcy
15 October, 2018, 20:57
The company listed $6.9 billion in assets and $11.3 billion in liabilities in documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of NY.
As part of the bankruptcy, the 125-year-old company, which was once the nation's largest retailer, will close 142 stores near the end of the year, with liquidation sales to begin soon. In August, it closed 13 Kmart stores and 33 Sears locations, including the Oakland Mall and Jackson Crossing stores. Lampert, who himself is Sears' biggest creditor, may also provide additional funds through his ESL hedge fund although that will require legal approval.
Sears Holdings Corp filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, a process that provides relief to indebted companies by allowing restructure of debts. More than 100,000 retired Sears employees are believed to hold pensions, which bankruptcy should protect.
Lampert had pledged to restore Sears to its glory days, when it owned the tallest building in the world and companies that included a radio station and Allstate insurance.
One of the lingering questions for investors has revolved around the value of Sears' assets, which include prime real estate. (This is in addition to the previously announced closure of 46 unprofitable stores by November 2018.) Sears, which has shuttered thousands of locations during the past several years, now operates a total of about 700 Sears and Kmart stores. Last month, Lampert said that Sears had been "significantly impacted" by paying more than $4.5 billion for its pension plans since 2005. Sears said ESL is negotiating a $300 million debtor-in-possession loan to support it through bankruptcy. In a statement Monday, Whirlpool said it does not anticipate Sears' bankruptcy filing to have any impact on its full-year 2018 EPS guidance or financial results over the long term.
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With the writing on the wall that a bankruptcy was imminent, suppliers demanded Sears pay cash up front for the items in its stores, putting it at an even greater competitive disadvantage with other retailers. Lampert partially spun off the company from its parent in 2012 and was Sears Canada's biggest shareholder.
Yes. The company says Sears Home Services is operating as usual. Lampert bought Sears in 2004 and merged it with Kmart, in which he had a controlling stake, the next year. The final straw was a $134 million debt payment due Monday that it could not afford.
Over the last decade-plus, Lampert has become Sears's biggest shareholder and creditor. That could boost same-store sales at many chains.
The retailer, for years called Sears, Roebuck & Co. and famous for its massive catalog, boomed in the decades after World War II along with a growing middle class. The original Kmart store in Garden City closed a year ago.
The bleak figures are an outlier to chains like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Macy's, which have been enjoying stronger sales as they benefit from a robust economy and efforts to make the shopping experience more inviting by investing heavily on remodeling and de-cluttering their stores. But the onset of discounters like Walmart created challenges for Sears that have only grown.
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Lampert has been willing to pour additional cash into the company in return for debt backed by real estate or other hard assets. Sears has been closing stores and selling properties as it grapples with a debt load of more than $5bn.
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