For years analysts, competitors, suppliers, creditors and more have been predicting the end of Sears Holdings. And while the retail group survived the “retail apocalypse” of 2017, bankruptcy finally came in 2018.
Sears Holdings, which operates the Sears and Kmart chains, has been burning cash and drowning in red ink for nearly a decade. What the company had that other retailers that met a similar fate sooner did not was a fairy godfather of sorts in Eddie Lampert, the company’s CEO. Through his hedge fund, ESL Investments, Lampert loaned the retail group an estimated $2.5 billion over the years, according The Wall Street Journal.
Sears, which launched in 1869 as a catalog business, was once a powerhouse that extended beyond retail with AllState Insurance, Dean Witter Financial Services Group and the Coldwell Banker Real Estate Group. The stores, though, began losing ground in the late 80s as rising upstarts like Walmart came into favor. By the time Lampert brought Sears and Kmart under the same corporate umbrella in 2004, the luster had already warn off the retail brand. In 2010, Lampert announced Sears would revamp its assortment and services, reportedly saying the retailer would be “unrecognizable” in five years. Sadly, that prediction came true.
Click through the timeline below to see how the final days played out for one of the country’s oldest—and once most revered—retailers.