Sears emerges from bankruptcy with 15 stores in its name

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Eddie Lampert, former chairman of Sears (Getty)

Sears emerged from bankruptcy after four years, but the company Americans had relied on for decades is virtually dead.

Its reorganization plan went into effect late last month, ending a process that had dragged on for four years, Fox Business reported. The next step for the former retail giant is the liquidation of its remaining assets.

There’s not too much.

Sears, a pioneer in mail-order catalogs and department stores, went bankrupt with 687 stores. It fell to 15 in the United States and Puerto Rico. The end is likely near for them too, as the faded brand can no longer compete with today’s consumers.

Sears’ decline was long and painful. Eddie Lampert led a 2005 buyout of the company for $11 billion when he was chairman of Kmart Holding. Sears Holdings sold the stores in 2019 to Lampert-affiliate ESL Investments for $5.2 billion.

The merged company, known as Transformco, was essentially an attempt to extract remaining value from its holdings, as the retail operation was a killer in a world dominated by Walmart and Amazon. Sears filed for bankruptcy in October 2018 after revenues fell 54% over five years.

Seritage Growth Properties, the real estate investment trust spun off from Sears, has been looking for ways to transform the remaining assets in a viable business or sell them. She retained Barclays to find a buyer, but received no offer.

Last month, a majority of Seritage shareholders approved a plan to sell all of the assets of the REIT. In the summer, the company’s board of directors recommended Seritage liquidate his properties and return proceeds to shareholders.

Lampert resigned as chairman of Seritgage earlier this year.

—Holden Walter-Warner

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