OPERATIONS

Sears Holdings closing 78 more stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Sears Holdings announced its latest round of store closings as it continues to look for ways to cut expenses and return to profitability after five years of losses.

The embattled retailer, which has been steadily shrinking its physical portfolio over the last few years, will close 68 Kmart and 10 Sears stores this summer. (See list of locations at end of story.) In February, Sears warned it would speed up the closing of unprofitable stores.

The chain said the new store closures come after comprehensive evaluation of the company's store portfolio that took into account historical and recent store performance, and the timing of lease expirations. All of the Sears stores and nearly all of the Kmart stores will close in late July. Two Kmart stores will close in mid-September.

"The decision to close stores is a difficult but necessary step as we take aggressive actions to strengthen our company, fund our transformation and restore Sears Holdings to profitability," said Edward S. Lampert, chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings. "We're focusing on our best members, our best categories and our best stores as we work to accelerate our transformation."

Sears expects the store closures to generate “a meaningful level of cash” from the liquidation of store inventory and from the sale or sublease of some of the related real estate. This, combined with the over $1.2 billion in debt financing that Sears announced it had raised earlier this month to provide capital to execute its transformation and to meet its financial obligations, will help the company move toward its primary 2016 objective to restore profitability, according to Sears.

The closing Kmart and Sears stores will start their liquidation sales on May 12 and April 29, respectively. Following is a complete list of the impacted stores:

* These stores will close in mid-September. All others will close in late July.

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Target takes stand on transgender bathroom issue

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp. weighed in on the national debate about which bathrooms transgender people can use, staking a position that is sure to elicit as much praise as it does criticism.

In a blog post on its company website Tuesday, the discounter said transgender employees and customers can use the restroom or fitting room facility that "corresponds with their gender identity."

"Inclusivity is a core belief at Target," the retailer stated in the blog. "It's something we celebrate. We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day.”

In the blog post, Target said it supports the Federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination. It noted that that proposed laws in several states have “reignited a national conversation around inclusivity.”

“Given the specific questions these legislative proposals raised about how we manage our fitting rooms and restrooms, we felt it was important to state our position,” Target wrote.

Several months ago, Target announced it was phasing-out gender-specific signage in select store aisles, including those for kids’ toys and bedding. That move ignited a firestorm on social media. The transgender statement is likely to do the same.

To read the full statement from Target, click here.

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R.Mader says:
Apr-21-2016 02:05 pm

Just sitting here cutting up my Target credit and debit card. PC out of control.

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Report: Target to increase minimum wage — again

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp is raising its minimum wage to $10 an hour, Reuters reported.

The reported increase comes amid an increasingly competitive job market and widespread calls by activists and labor groups for retail and restaurant chains to offer higher wages.

According to the report, most Target employees who earn less than $10 per hour should see their base pay go up in May. But the increase will also affect employees who already make over $10 an hour, the report said, with these associates being entitled to an annual merit raise and a pay-grade hike related to experience and position of the employee.

Target raised its minimum pay rate in April 2015 to $9 an hour, up from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour at the time. Walmart has already raised its lowest starting wage to $10 per hour.

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