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Sears to close another 20 stores

Sears to close another 20 stores

Sears Canada Inc. - after obtaining temporary court protection from creditors under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act - announced Thursday it will close 20 full department stores, 15 Sears Home stores, all 10 Sears Outlet stores and 14 Sears Hometown locations.

Sears stores have struggled with a consumer shift toward online shopping, tough competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp., and what analysts have decried as a cycle of underinvestment in stores, which many shoppers see as exhausted or lacking inventory, Crain's reported.

All other Sears locations will remain open, and the company "plans to continue to operate a large number of stores, continue to maintain significant employment, and to service its customers across Canada", the retailer said in a court filing.

Stores are closing at alarming rate. It said it will begin liquidation sales next weekend and that the stores are expected to close by mid-September.

The 20 closings bring the company's total so far this year to 236, or roughly 17% of the stores it had in January.

Earlier this year, Sears closed its Enfield Square Mall location in CT along with Kmart locations in Fairhaven, Great Barrington and South Attleboro, as well as a Sears Auto Center in Swansea. Sears has almost halved its store footprint since 2012, from 2,019 then to fewer than 1,200 this year, once all planned closures are made. However, Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert and his ESL Investments hedge fund own an approximate 45% stake in the company.

Sears announced 72 shut-downs earlier this month and 269 stores back in January. Lampert is chairman of both Sears and Seritage.

Sears' agreement with Seritage lets it end its leases at unprofitable stores in exchange for payment of one year's rent.


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