Apocalypse now: Sears, once dominant retail chain, files for bankruptcy
By Agence France-Presse
Sears, the venerable US chain that once dominated the retail sector but had been in decline since the advent of the Amazon era, filed for bankruptcy Monday.
With a history that stretches back to 1886, the company was a pioneer of departmental stores that catered to everyone and went on to build a vast empire that stretched across North America.
But it has closed hundreds of stores in recent years amid a retail shakeout caused in part by the rise of Amazon and other e-commerce players.
“The Company and certain of its subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York,” a statement by Sears Holdings Corporation said.
The company had been in deep debt and reportedly could not afford a $134 million repayment that had been due on Monday.
Edward S. Lampert, Chairman of Sears Holdings, said the insolvency filing would give the company the “flexibility to strengthen its balance sheet” and enable it to accelerate a strategic transformation.
The company said it intended to reorganize around a smaller store platform, a strategy it said would help save tens of thousands of jobs.
But it announced it would close 142 unprofitable stores near the end of the year, in addition to the previously announced closure of 46 stores by November.
While retaining his chairmanship, Lampert will step down as CEO, with the role handled by other senior executives as part of new “Office of the CEO.”
It added it had received commitments for $300 million in debtor-in-possession financing and was negotiating for an additional $300 million.