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‘New Sears’ Axes 96 More Stores in Battle to Keep Company Afloat

The newly reorganized Sears and Kmart operation, under the operating umbrella Transform Holdco, is not having an easy time trying to stay alive.

The company is getting ready to shutter 96 more stores, or 51 Sears nameplates and 45 Kmart doors, with going-out-of-business sales slated to begin on Dec. 2. The company has already closed some locations throughout the year, following the purchase of the operating business from bankruptcy proceedings in February by Transform for $5.2 billion.

Transform is an affiliate of ESL Investments, a hedge fund run by former Sears CEO Edward S. Lampert.

According to a company spokesman, Transform’s owners and a third-party investor have recently provided the company with $250 million in new capital. The funding will help the company continue its focus on its competitive strengths and prune operations that have ben struggling due to increased competition and other factors.

This individual said the company “will continue to evaluate our Sears and Kmart footprint, consistent with our overall retail and service strategy.”

He added: “We will endeavor to create and deliver value through a strategic combination of our better-performing retail stores and our service businesses, brands and other assets, and expect to realize a significant return on our extensive portfolio of owned and leased real estate.”

The latest store closures, expected to be completed early next year, will leave the retailer with just 182 stores in operation. That means 241 stores have already been shuttered from the 423 locations Transform acquired in February as part of its purchase. And the doors it acquired were considered the strongest of its store base even though not all were profitable on a four-wall basis.

USA Today first reported on the store closures.

The former operating company Sears Holdings Corp. filed its voluntary Chapter 11 petition in October 2018. Lampert is chairman of Transform, a position he also held at Sears Holdings. Lampert was also the one who engineered the merger of Kmart and Sears, Roebuck & Co.