Sears Holdings emerged from bankruptcy after more than 10,000 court filings and a four-year stay that saw the department store chain shrink from nearly 700 stores to fewer than twenty.
A bankruptcy estate reorganization plan went into effect on October 29, marking the end of Chapter 11 and the beginning of the process of liquidating the remaining assets.
Sears Holdings is a front company. It sold its stores in February 2019 to ESL Investments, a subsidiary of former Sears president Eddie Lampert. The $5.2 billion sale involved more than 400 retail locations.
Ray Wimer, professor of retail practice at Syracuse University, doesn’t expect Sears’ 20-plus stores to survive. “They don’t have an attractive value proposition for customers and the amount of competition in a retail market that offers similar merchandise means the end will come at some point,” he told FOX Business.
Where to shop in America
Sears once advertised themselves as “Where America Stores” and boast lines of merchandise from supermodel Cheryl Tiegs and “Charlie’s Angel’s” star Jacqueline Smith.
At its peak, Sears, Roebuck was the world’s largest retailer, with approximately 3,500 Sears and Kmart stores, including 2,350 full and off-center stores, and 1,100 specialty retailers. Sears has also had a range of notable brands and companies operating, including Kenmore, DieHard, Craftsman, Sears Home Services, Sears Auto Centers, and Innovel.
The Walmart competitor had just over 3,000 stores: 1,353 discount stores and 1,713 Supercenters.
Lambert, then president of Kmart Holding, bought Sears for $11 billion in March 2005 in an effort to ward off traditional rivals like Walmart and e-commerce rivals like Amazon.
At the time of the merger, the Sears-Kmart group, called Transformco, had annual revenues of $55 billion, a fifth of Walmart’s 2004 financial total of $256 billion.
Amazon has annual revenue of $2.54 billion. Since then, the world’s largest online retailer has grown to $469.8 billion in sales while Walmart finished 2021 at $572.8 billion. Transformco is a private company and does not report on financial results.
Sears tried to stave off bankruptcy by closing stores and selling assets. Sears sold its Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker in 2017 for $775 million and closed 300 stores in 2018.
It wasn’t enough.
The company went into bankruptcy in October 2018 with 687 stores. Like many traditional retailers, the department store has fallen victim to declining sales. Revenues declined 53.8% in the five years prior to bankruptcy, leading some sellers to demand unfavorable payment schedules, cut subsidies or demand cash in advance as a condition for continued delivery of goods.
Lambert purchased the remaining Sears assets at a bankruptcy auction in January 2019 and acquired Sears Home Town and Outlet Stores in June. He sold DieHard to Advance Auto for $200 million in December 2019.
Transformco continued to sell stores and closed the last 15 Sears Auto Center locations in January.
Based on what he has seen, Professor Wimmer says he expects Sears to die slowly, noting that it is unlikely that anyone would be interested in buying any of the Sears assets, if Lambert were interested in selling, given their small size. remaining stores.
There are now fewer than two dozen Sears stores, excluding smaller format Hometown stores, according to BroStocks and the Sears website.
Surviving Sears Stores:
- Alaska: Anchorage (home and life)
- California: Burbank, Concord, Stockton, Whittier
- Colorado: Fort Collins (Application & Mattress)
- Florida: Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach Gardens
- Hawaii: Honolulu (appliances and mattresses)
- Kansas: Overland Park (home and life)
- Louisiana: Lafayette (home and life)
- Maryland: Frederick
- Massachusetts: Braintree
- New Jersey: Jersey City
- North Carolina: Greensboro
- Pennsylvania: Camp Hill
- Puerto Rico: San Juan
- Texas: El Paso, var (appliances and mattresses)
- Washington: Tukwila, Union Gap