Iconic US retailer Sears files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Sears, once the largest retailer in the world, is closing hundreds of stores and reportedly planning to file for bankruptcy. Here's how it got there.

Sears’ bankruptcy appears imminent

Sears Holdings Corp filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday with a plan to close 142 more stores, throwing into doubt the future of the century-old retailer that once dominated USA malls but has withered in the age of internet shopping.

Meanwhile, Sears workers are nervous about what kind of severance they'll receive if their store closes.

The company, which owns the discount chain Kmart, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in NY as it struggles with a debt burden of $5.6bn (£4.3bn). Sears and Kmart stores grew barren and rundown.

The last man standing while storied Chicago competitors like Wieboldt's, Montgomery Ward and Carson Pirie Scott fell by the wayside, Sears survived the Great Depression, adapted as its shoppers traded catalogs for downtown department stores, and followed customers to suburban shopping malls.

It listed $6.9 billion in assets and $11.3 billion in liabilities in documents filed in the bankruptcy court, Reuters reported.

"As we look toward the holiday season, Sears and Kmart stores remain open for business and our dedicated associates look forward to serving our members and customers", said Lampert. Mohsin Meghji, a managing director of the M-III Partners corporate advisory firm, was appointed chief restructuring officer. The company's fate depends on the willingness of creditors and suppliers to keep it afloat.

While we have made progress, the plan has yet to deliver the results we have desired, and addressing the company's immediate liquidity needs has impacted our efforts to become a profitable and more competitive retailer.
The only buyer it could find was Lampert, who offered $400 million for Kenmore through his hedge fund. Sears Holdings (SHLD) stock ended 17% lower Wednesday. The company said it is continuing to pay employees' wages and benefits and is working with its vendors to ensure its shelves remain stocked.

The retailer employed about 89,000 workers in the United States as of February, compared with 246,000 people five years ago.

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She said a refrigerator her mother bought at Sears broke after two years and it still hasn't been fixed for nearly a month with no help from the retailer.

U.S. retailer Sears, a brand that once dominated shopping malls in the country, has filed for bankruptcy. He told the New York Times, "there is something really wrong with this picture" in relation to the arrangement between Sears and Seritage.

Last year, Sears sold its famous Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc., following its earlier moves to spin off pieces of its Sears Hometown and Outlet division and Lands' End. According to The Journal, Sears' controversial CEO Eddie Lampert, who has come to the retailer's rescue in the past with billions of dollars worth of loans through his hedge fund ESL Investments, is not bailing it out this time.

One of the lingering questions for investors has revolved around the value of Sears' assets, which include prime real estate.

Under Lampert, the company saw a $1.5 billion profit in 2015, but it's been downhill ever since.

It appears that the end is nigh for embattled retailer Sears.

If Sears does file for bankruptcy, it could try to stay in business, using the court process to shed debt and unaffordable leases.

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