Move called a 'difficult but necessary step'
Earlier this year Sears’ eliminated 68 Kmarts and 10 Sears stores in response to slumping sales. This latest round of closings, first reported by Business Insider, would result in Kmart’s U.S. footprint becoming about 14% smaller than it was at the start of 2016, when the retailer operated 940 stores.
Sears Holdings is controlled by hedge fund billionaire Eddie Lampert, Sears’ largest shareholder. Lampert, who took over as chief executive officer in 2013, has sought to reverse the retailer’s slide by beefing up its digital platform and rewards program. He has sold assets and pared the company’s store base in a bid to stem a string of operating losses. Sears lost $395 million in the most recent quarter and has lost more than $9 billion in recent years.
The company spun off some properties into a real estate investment trust last year, generating about $2.7 billion to buy more time for the turnaround plan.