Monday, December 31, 2018

On Friday, US retail chain Sears Holdings announced it would close another 80 of its Sears and Kmart locations by the end of March. These closings come on the heels of more than 180 store closings announced since the company declared bankruptcy on October 15, with the two sets of closings together representing roughtly a third of all Sears and Kmart stores in operation, leaving the company with somewhat over 400 locations after the latest round of closings are complete.

Sears chairman and primary shareholder Edward Lampert and the company’s other creditors continue to dispute the future of the company in bankruptcy court. Some creditors for the Sears Holding Corporation are pushing for the bankruptcy court to dissolve the company, arguing doing so would minimize the negative impact to their investments. Lampert, to the contrary, made a US$4.4 billion offer on the company’s remaining stores and the Kenmore brand. This offer was backed by US$1.3 billion in investments from entities outside Lampert’s hedge fund reportedly including Bank of America, Citigroup, and the Royal Bank of Canada.

Lampert’s offer, if accepted by the bankruptcy court, would keep over 420 Sears and Kmart stores open as well as keep, by reported projection, up to 50,000 job positions filled. Additionally the bid seeks to preserve protection agreements and warranties that Sears and Kmart customers have purchased for appliances, electronics, and other consumer products. Outside of Lampert’s US$4.4 billion offer no other entity has come forward with a bid to purchase the whole company with intent to keep it in operation. The only other offers received for the whole company have been from entities seeking to close the company and liquidate its assets.

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