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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