Sears, the once-mighty United States retailer, files for bankruptcy

Posted October 15, 2018

But rents have risen in the best locations and a bankruptcy like Sears poses an opportunity for landlords to refresh their properties with new or better tenants, provided they win control of the sites during Chapter 11, which can be complicated.

The filing in federal bankruptcy court in NY came in the early hours of Monday morning. The operator of Sears and Kmart stores joins a growing list of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy or liquidated in the last few years amid a fiercely competitive climate. The company operates about 700 Sears and K-Mart stores.

By the time Sears limped into bankruptcy on Monday, the once-great company was shriveled and sickly.

"The Chapter 11 process will give [Sears] Holdings the flexibility to strengthen its balance sheet, enabling the company to accelerate its strategic transformation, continue right sizing its operating model, and return to profitability", Lampert said in a statement.

Sears in St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights will remain open.

Yes, Sears says it is still accepting gift cards in stores and online.

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Last year, Sears sold its famous Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc., following earlier moves to spin off pieces of its Sears Hometown and Outlet division and Lands' End.

The Chapter 11 filing to reorganise debts of the parent of Sears, Roebuck and Co and Kmart follows a decade of revenue declines, hundreds of store closures, and years of deals by billionaire chief executive officer Eddie Lampert in an attempt to turn around the company he bought in 2004.

It's still unclear whether Lampert, who became chairman and CEO in 2013, will use his own money to keep Sears afloat, something he has been doing for years to offset losses.

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

Sears said it meant to reorganize around a smaller store platform, a strategy it said would help save tens of thousands of jobs.

But eventually, retail changed two more times, and Sears failed to be the company that saw either trend first.

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Sears already had closed Baltimore area department stores in Hunt Valley Towne Center, Eastpoint Mall and Hagerstown, and had closed Kmart stores in Dundalk, Elkton, Crofton and Salisbury. According to Business Insider, there were 866 Kmart and Sears stores still open as of September 13, down from almost 2,000 stores five years ago. In April 2007, shares were trading at around $141.

"ESL believes that supervision by a judge will enable creditors to address any issue among them according to a clear set of rules and permit the sale of certain assets through a court-approved auction process to maximize value", the fund said in a statement.

The fate of Kmart, which Lampert merged with Sears in 2005, and other satellite companies such as the Kenmore appliance brand, is also up in the air.

Sears' real estate footprint also is one of Kimco's largest, creating the opportunity to add more tenants.

The company has struggled with outdated stores and complaints about customer service even for its once crown jewels: major appliances like washers and dryers. A long series of store closings has left it with under 900 today. Many large suppliers are getting paid in advance, while some smaller ones have cut payment terms to a few weeks, instead of months, according to people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be named because the dealings are private.

The struggling retailer has been losing market share for years, but its Kmart and Sears chains still generate about $14 billion in annual sales.

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