Local businesses monitor Sears and Kmart following $2.2 billion

Mar 23, 2017, 01:57
Local businesses monitor Sears and Kmart following $2.2 billion

The company has been controlled by its billionaire chief executive, Edward Lampert, who has cut US stores by almost a third, reduced holdings in Sears Canada and spun off the Lands' End clothing chain.

Lampert has long pledged to return Sears to greatness by leveraging best-known brands like Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard, as well as its vast land holdings.

Retailers at large have fallen out of favor, and investors worry Sears' strategy of selling assets to fund losses has its limits.

Shares of Sears were down 11.9 percent at $8.02 in late afternoon after falling to $7.60, their largest one-day percentage decline since an 18.79 percent drop on November 16, 2012.

Sales at stores open at least a year also plummeted 10.3%, representing a loss of $555 million in revenue.

Sears last turned an annual profit in 2011.

At this point, the stores are doing all they can to stay afloat but have expressed "substantial doubt" about chances of survival. The Company is the parent company of Kmart Holding Corporation (Kmart) and Sears, Roebuck and Co (Sears).

Lampert owned almost 10 percent of the REIT that paid Sears $2.6 billion in 2015 for stores that it purchased, many of which were then leased back to the retailer.

In 2012, the company reported almost $20 billion in total assets with more than 2,500 stores open. It has $4.2 billion in debt, up from $3 billion a year ago. It operates through two segments: Kmart and Sears Domestic.

Sears Holdings CEO Edward Lampert, a hedge fund manager who oversaw the Sears merger with Kmart, began his own turnaround strategy for the ailing company, loaning it cash and spinning off parts as the situation grew worse.

For decades, Sears was king of the American shopping landscape. When Walmart first came in and now they put a lot of people out affecting all these other stores. "We still have some of those". Its stores became its albatross, many of them looking shabby and outdated.

The company has been considering selling other businesses such as the Kenmore appliances and DieHard auto battery brands.

Johnson, though, believes one avenue for Sears could be returning to its roots as a direct-to-consumer company, only using the internet versus the old catalog.

In its third quarter, Sears Canada's loss more than doubled to $120-million from $53.2-million a year earlier, tied partly to its failure to regain business lost after the termination of its credit card agreement in 2015. He believes the Sears name still stands for something for the 40-plus customer.

Weikel reported from St. Paul, Minnesota.

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