Sears nears bankruptcy after years of turmoil

15 October, 2018, 15:24 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • A Sears Essentials store in Palatine Illinois

Sears, the 125-year-old U.S. department store chain that was once the biggest retailer in the world, has filed for bankruptcy after years of losses and mounting competition from online rivals such as Amazon.

Some like Payless ShoeSource have had success emerging from reorganisation in bankruptcy court but plenty of others have not, including Toys R Us and Bon-Ton Stores, both of which collapsed after a Chapter 11 filing.

Sears plans to close about 150 of its 700 stores in malls across the United States as soon as it files for bankruptcy, Reuters reported on Friday.

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.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sears has hired M-III Partners, a boutique advisory firm specializing in seeing companies through bankruptcies and restructuring, The company is also talking to lenders about providing it with debtor-in-possession financing, CNBC reported.

Businessman Eddie Lampert - who serves as the company's chief executive, biggest investor, landlord and significant creditor - had attempted to restructure the firm's debt to avoid bankruptcy.

Being an unsecured creditor of Sears (SHLD) right now is not a good place to be.

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But the company has not turned a profit since 2011, and critics say Lampert let the stores deteriorate over the years, even as he bought the company's stock and lent it money. But it said it is looking for a buyer for several stores and it will close an additional 142 stores by year-end. The company added a new director this week who is familiar with bankruptcies and restructuring. Such a plan could potentially keep a slimmer Sears alive as a going concern, the sources said.

Over the coming months, the company expects to market and sell certain company assets.

If Sears does file for bankruptcy, it could try to stay in business, using the court process to shed debt and unaffordable leases.

Such financial woes contrast with the promise that Mr Lampert made when he combined Sears and Kmart in 2005, two years after he helped bring Kmart out of bankruptcy. It started out as a vast mail-order business selling clothes, tools, toys and even tombstones, and became the biggest retailer in the USA before being overtaken by Walmart and later Amazon.

The Sears catalog eventually sold products ranging from hardware and automobiles to kits for building an entire house.

Lampert continued, "As we look toward the holiday season, Sears and Kmart stores remain open for business and our dedicated associates look forward to serving our members and customers". Lampert also became Land's End Inc's biggest shareholder when the clothing manufacturer was spun out of Sears in 2014. Its had 11 years of straight annual drops in revenue.


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