Sears Files for Bankruptcy Monday Amid Debt Issues

 

Once the largest retailer in the nation, Sears announced Monday morning that the company plans on shuttering another 142 stores in addition to the stores the major chain retailer already closed this year. 

The 132-year-old company had been struggling over the last few years, with the chain's last profitable year coming in 2010. The straw that broke the camel's back was a $134 million debt payment that was coming due Monday that the company could not afford. 

The company filed in bankruptcy court in New York during the early morning on Monday. In a statement, the company said they plan on remaining in business and keeping stores that are profitable open, along with the Sears and Kmart websites. 

"Over the last several years, we have worked hard to transform our business and unlock the value of our assets," said Edward S. Lampert, Chairman of Sears Holdings. "While we have made progress, the plan has yet to deliver the results we have desired, and addressing the Company's immediate liquidity needs has impacted our efforts to become a profitable and more competitive retailer."

Lampert gave up his title of CEO and turned the company over to three of the company's top executives. 

"Our goal is to achieve a comprehensive restructuring as efficiently as possible, working closely with our creditors and other debtholders, and be better positioned to execute on our strategy and key priorities," Lampert said. 

It isn't immediately known which stores the company will shutter. Roughly 700 stores are still in business across the United States, with the company saying they plan keeping many of those open through the holiday season. 

"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. We thank our vendors for their continuing support through the upcoming season and beyond. We also thank our associates for their hard work and commitment to providing millions of Americans with value and convenience," Lampert added. 

The problems for Sears began several decades ago as online stores and other big box rivals sought to undercut the nation's largest retailer, by beating the company on pricing and convenience. As the company sought to revitalize its sales, experts say the retailer failed to invest in the upkeep and modernization of its stores, with many stores becoming barren and rundown. 

In recent years, Sears has sold off several of its many most valuable assets, including the Craftsman brand of tools, which it sold in 2017 and Lands End, which was sold in 2014. In an attempt to stay solvent, Sears was looking for a buyer for its Kenmore brand of appliances, but the only person they could find was Lampert, who offered the company $400 million through his hedge fund. Sears never accepted Lampert's offer. 

Over the last two years, the retailer that once boasted more than 3,500 stores across the country has shuttered more than 700 of their stores over the last two years. Sears has lost more than $11 billion since 2011 according to CNBC. 

Photo: Getty Images

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