Sears, Kmart to close 100 stores in USA

Staff & Wire Reports
The company announced plans to close 100-120 Sears and Kmart stores.

There has been no word on whether local Sears or Kmart stores will be among the 100 - 120 shops closed nationwide by Sears Holdings Corp.  

The firm recently announced it would close the stores,  after poor sales during the holidays, the most crucial time of year for retailers.

The closings are the latest and most visible in a long series of moves to try to fix a retailer that has struggled with falling sales and shabby stores.

Local store officials in Bath said they have not been told whether they will remain open or be closed in the coming year,

Sears Holdings Corp. said it has yet to determine which stores will close but said it will post on http://www.searsmedia.com when a final list is compiled. Sears would not discuss how many, if any, jobs would be cut.

The company has more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada. There are Sears stores in Horseheads, Bath, Hornell, Ithaca and Wellsboro, Pa. Kmart has locations in Horseheads, Bath and Sayre, Pa. Several years ago, the company closed a Kmart store in Gang Mills.

The company’s stock dropped $8.67, or 18.9 percent, to $37.18 in morning trading. The shares dipped to their lowest point in more than three years at $36.51 during the first few minutes of trading.

The company’s revenue at stores open at least a year fell 5.2 percent to date for the quarter at both Sears and Kmart, the company said Tuesday. That includes the critical holiday shopping period. Sears Holdings said the declining sales, ongoing pressure on profit margins and rising expenses pulled its adjusted earnings lower. The company predicts fourth-quarter adjusted earnings will be less than half the $933 million it reporter for the same quarter last year.

Sears Holdings also anticipates a non-cash charge of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion in the quarter to write off the value of carried-over tax deductions it now doesn’t expect to be profitable enough to use.

Sears said it will no longer prop up “marginally performing” stores in hopes of improving their performance and will now concentrate on cash-generating stores.

“These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers,” D’Ambrosio said.

Sears Holdings Corp., based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., said that the store closings will generate $140 to $170 million in cash from inventory sales. The retailer expects the sale or sublease of real estate holdings to add more cash.

A hint that trouble might be brewing came in mid-December when Sears Holdings unexpectedly announced that 260 of its Sears, Roebuck and Co. locations would stay open until midnight through Dec. 23.

Kmart’s 4.4 percent decline in revenue at stores open at least a year was blamed on diminished layaways and a drop in clothing and consumer electronics sales. Part of Kmart’s layaway softness likely stemmed from competitive pressure. Wal-Mart had said that its holiday layaway business had been popular. Toys R Us expanded its layaway services to include more items. Kmart’s grocery sales climbed during the period.

Sears cited lackluster consumer electronics and home appliance sales for its 6 percent dropoff. Sears’ clothing sales were flat. Sales of Lands’ End products at Sears stores rose in the mid-single digits.

Sears Holdings said it also plans to lower its fixed costs by $100 million to $200 million and trim its 2012 peak domestic inventory by $300 million from 2011’s $10.2 billion at the third quarter’s end.

The company announced plans to close 100-120 Sears and Kmart stores.