Sears-KMart shuttering 100 stores by January

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 162 views 

Struggling retailer Sears Holdings Corp. will lay off at least 5,457 employees and close more than 100 stores, many before Christmas, according to a Seeking Alpha report citing liquidation notices and employees.

None of the closing stores are located in Arkansas. The closings are spread across the country impacting at least 46 Kmart stores, 30 Sears department stores and 31 Sears Auto Centers. Closings are expected before the end of January. This purge adds to the 75 Kmart and 21 Sears stores already closed in the first half of this year. That compares to 93 locations shuttered in all of 2013.

“We disclose our store counts at the end of each quarter,” Sears spokesman Howard Riefs noted in an email.

In brief statements to local media, Sears said the closures were part of an effort to "reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model."

Sears had 1,077 Kmart stores and 793 Sears stores in the United States as of Aug. 2. The company had 226,000 U.S. employees as of Feb. 1.

Revenue at Sears has declined for 30 straight quarters. The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company has posted losses of over $1.8 billion over the past four quarters, and shares in the retailer have lost more than a third of their value over the past year.

Liquidating stores isn't the only way Sears is raising cash. The company has announced a variety of other initiatives to boost liquidity, including a $400 million loan from CEO Edward S. Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, announced in September; $168 million raised from selling Sears Canada stock to ESL earlier this month; and a $625 million bond offering announced on Monday, which ESL will also participate in.

The Fitch credit rating agency downgraded Sears' issuer default rating to "CC" last month.

Shares in Sears Holdings rose 4.2% on the news trading at $35.87 Thursday morning (Oct. 23).