Sears said it would close another 80 stores only hours before the troubled retailer faced a deadline for its chairman Eddie Lampert to submit a bid that would keep the 132-year-old store chain intact.
Lampert has been putting together a $4.6 billion offer to maintain control of a chain of about 500 stores under both the Sears and Kmart brands. He faced a Friday deadline of 4 p.m. ET to deliver such a proposal. As of 2 p.m. ET, Sears has made no announcement regarding its fate.
Earlier on Friday, however, Sears said it would close another 80 stores, including 43 Sears stores and 37 Kmart stores, according to reports from CNBC and CNN. The stores will be closed by late March, with going-out-of-business sales beginning in early January.
Sears had nearly 700 stores when it filed for bankruptcy-court protection in October. The retailer secured another loan to keep its doors open through the holidays, even as creditors urged the bankruptcy court to shut it down. Friday’s announced closing of 80 more stores would leave Lampert with closer to 400 stores should his proposal come through. If it doesn’t the company could be broken up and liquidated.
Sears’ long history leaves it with an influential role in 20th Century American commerce. While recent generations have abandoned or entirely avoided Sears stores, the company was an early innovator in U.S. retail, a godsend to heartland shoppers a century ago, and arguably a more dominant force in the retail industry than Amazon is today.