Sears goes bankrupt, leaving only a handful of stores

Sears Holdings Inc. emerged from bankruptcy after filing more than 10,000 court documents and a four-year stay, as the department store chain shrunk from nearly 700 stores to less than two dozen.

The bankruptcy estate’s restructuring plan went into effect in October. 29, marking the end of Chapter 11 and the beginning of the liquidation process for the remaining assets.

Sears Holdings is a shell company. It sold its stores in February 2019 to ESL Investments, an affiliate of former Sears chairman Eddie Lampert. The $5.2 billion in sales included more than 400 retail locations.

Ray Wimer, a professor of retail practice at Syracuse University, doesn’t expect the more than 20 Sears stores remaining in the sale to continue. “They don’t have an attractive value proposition for customers, and the level of competition in the retail market to offer similar items means the end is coming,” he told FOX Business.

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Sears store in Illinois

Customers shop at a Sears store at Woodfield Mall on Sept. 9. January 17, 2021, Schaumburg, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Sears once billed itself as “the place to shop in America” ​​and boasted collections from supermodel Cheryl Teagues and “Charlie’s Angels” star Jaclyn Smith.

At its peak, Sears, Roebuck was the world’s largest retailer with nearly 3,500 Sears and Kmart stores, including 2,350 full-line and non-mall stores, and 1,100 specialty stores. Sears also owns a range of well-known brands and operations, including Kenmore, DieHard, Craftsman, Sears Home Services, Sears Auto Centers and Innovel.

Rival Walmart has just over 3,000 stores: 1,353 discounters and 1,713 supercenters.

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A Kmart sign still stands above a shopping center in Lawnside, N.J., on Oct. 10. February 29, 2022, ten years after Kmart closes. The property was eventually sold in 2022.

In March 2005, Lambert, then chairman of Kmart Holdings, bought Sears for $11 billion to thwart brick-and-mortar rivals such as Walmart and e-commerce rivals such as Amazon.

When combined, the Sears-Kmart combination, called Transformco, had annual revenue of $55 billion, one-fifth of Walmart’s total revenue of $256 billion in fiscal 2004.

Amazon’s annual revenue is $2.54 billion. Since then, the world’s largest online retailer’s sales have grown to $469.8 billion, compared with Walmart’s $572.8 billion by the end of 2021. Transformco is private and does not report financial results.


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Sears tried to avoid bankruptcy by closing stores and selling assets. Sears sold its Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $775 million in 2017 and closed 300 stores in 2018.

This is not enough.

The company, which went bankrupt in October 2018, has 687 stores. Like many brick-and-mortar retailers, department stores have fallen prey to declining sales. Revenues fell 53.8% in the five years prior to bankruptcy, prompting some suppliers to demand unfavorable payment schedules, reduced subsidies or advance cash as a condition for continuing to deliver goods.

Lampert purchased the remainder of Sears in a bankruptcy auction in January 2019 and acquired Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores in June. In December 2019, he sold DieHard to Advance Auto for $200 million.

Transformco continued to sell stores and closed its last 15 Sears Auto Center locations in January.

Prof Wimer said based on what he had seen, he expected the Sears store to slowly die, noting that if Lambert were interested in selling, it was unlikely anyone would be interested in buying any of Sears’ assets, given the company’s large footprint. Small. remaining stores.

There are now fewer than two dozen Sears stores, excluding the smaller Hometown Stores, according to the BroStocks and Sears websites.

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Surviving Sears stores:

  • Alaska: Anchorage (Family & Life)
  • California: Burbank, Concord, Stockton, Whittier
  • Colorado: Fort Collins (appliances and mattresses)
  • Florida: Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach Gardens
  • Hawaii: Honolulu (appliances and mattresses)
  • Kansas: Overland Park (Family & Life)
  • Louisiana: Lafayette (Family & Life)
  • Maryland: Frederick
  • Massachusetts: Braintree
  • New Jersey: Jersey City
  • North Carolina: Greensboro
  • Pennsylvania: Camp Hill
  • Puerto Rico: San Juan
  • Texas: El Paso, Farr (appliances and mattresses)
  • Washington: Tukwila, Union Gap

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