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Sears to Layoff Hundreds of Employees—Again

The Sears Holdings workforce takes another hit as the retail group cuts hundreds of jobs.

Through employment notices filed in Illinois, Sears indicated that it will eliminate more than 200 positions in the coming weeks. One wave of layoffs reportedly began this week with another to follow on or about August 25.

CNBC has said 150 of the affected employees work at the company’s support center in its headquarters.

The news outlet also reprinted a letter from CEO Eddie Lampert to the company that both lamented the need for the layoffs and expressed gratitude for workers’ efforts toward helping salvage the company.

“As we work to advance our strategic transformation, we all know that we must return the company to profitability in order to retain the confidence of our constituents. This means continuing to look at ways to streamline our operations while staying focused on our Best Members, Best Categories and Best Stores. Today, we made the very difficult decision to eliminate a number of positions across various business units and roles,” he wrote.

As is he is inclined to do, Lampert also noted how hard everyone is working to return the chains to profitability, saying, “Having co-workers and friends leave the organization is never easy, but making changes like these are a necessary part of creating a stronger organization in this time of industry disruption. We continue to fight every day to improve the performance of Sears Holdings—and you are central to that effort.”

Thus far, this year has produced a predictable drumbeat of bad news for the retail group, starting with the announcement in January that it would close 103 locations—in addition to more than 300 locations that went dark in 2017. Then in February word came that 220 corporate employees were to be let go. As the months progressed, the closures mounted, with another 72 doors added to the growing list in May and 10 more in early this month.

The balance of the year is likely to unfold in a similar fashion as Sears continues to try to find ways to cut expenses in lieu of a strategy for boosting sales.

In the company’s first quarter earnings report in May, Sears reported comp sales were down by a combined 11.9% across both the Sears and Kmart banners. The group also reported a net loss of $424 million during the period, which ended May 5.

Quarterly performances like these have made Sears a perennial fixture on retail watch lists, as many had expected the company to succumb before now. Garrick Brown, vice president of retail research for the Americas Cushman & Wakefield, predicts that a Sears bankruptcy could have a negative impact that reverberates far and wide.

“Sears, depending on the analyst you talk to, either goes bankrupt by the end of the year or doesn’t make it very deep into 2019,” he said. “That will be a big story when they go down, even through one could argue the relevancy of Sears has declined significantly over the 20 years. The retail apocalypse story will dominate the headlines for a week or two, and it’ll impact everyone’s stock prices because of guilt by association.”

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