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Sears To Close 62 Stores by July to Reduce Costs

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Sears to Close 62 Stores in First Half of This Year
A customer enters a Sears store in Peru, Illinois. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

March 16 (Bloomberg) -- Sears Holdings Corp., the department-store chain controlled by hedge fund executive Edward Lampert, plans to close 62 retail stores in the first half of this year to reduce expenses.

The closings include 43 Sears Hometown stores, 10 Sears Hardware stores and 9 The Great Indoors stores, the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 14. The company, which also owns the Kmart chain, had 4,010 stores as of Jan. 28.

Lampert, who is Sears’s chairman and controls about 60 percent of its shares, is spinning off units to generate cash and closing stores after the company posted its largest quarterly loss in at least nine years. Sears said last month it planned to raise as much as $770 million by selling 11 store sites and separating some smaller-format businesses.

Chris Brathwaite, a Sears spokesman, declined to provide a list of the 62 stores to be closed or specify when the stores will shut down. Brathwaite said in an e-mail that he didn’t know how many jobs may be affected because most of the closing stores are independently owned and operated.

Sears fell 1.1 percent to $82.55 at the close in New York. The shares have more than doubled this year after plunging 56 percent in 2011.

Sears also disclosed in the filing that Lampert’s ESL Investments Inc. agreed with an undisclosed financial institution to buy a stake in contracts that pay suppliers for their accounts receivable with Sears should the company seek protection from creditors.

Planned Closings

The retailer last year announced a plan to close 120 Kmart and Sears full-line stores that would generate as much as $170 million in cash from sales of inventory and leasing or sales of the locations.

The company had $747 million in cash and near-cash items at the end of the fourth quarter, about 45 percent less than a year earlier.

To contact the reporters on this story: Leslie Patton in Chicago at lpatton5@bloomberg.net; Lauren Coleman-Lochner in New York at llochner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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