courtesy Billy Donati
RATON — In a surprise move to the Raton store, Sears Holdings Corp. in New York state announced Thursday, January 4, that it will be closing over 100 more Kmart and Sears stores, including Raton and Tucumcari in New Mexico, as the struggling department store chain tries to turn around its business.
The Hoffman Estates, an Illinois-based company, says the closures include 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears stores that will be shuttered between early March and early April, with liquidation sales beginning as soon as next Friday at the stores.
Brenda Samora, the head of HR at the local Kmart, has been employed by the store for 31 years and said that the closure will affect 39 hourly employees and two salaried managers. The managers will be offered positions with the company if they want to relocate, said Samora. The news came without advance warning, as a company representative came to the store on Thursday and announced the closing to a shocked gathering. Samora said that April 8 will be the last day of business for the Raton store, which has been open for 39 straight years. Samora said the store manager, Dave Martinez, has been with the store since the very beginning as he was the first associate hired by the company here. Martinez was unavailable for comment.
A Sears spokesman said Thursday the number of total workers affected company-wide was not available. The move comes in addition to the closing of about 250 stores announced last year.
Sears has been selling off some its real estate and brands as it tries to raise cash. In addition to the closures, Sears has most recently unveiled plans to pay $407 million toward its pension plan in order to unlock and allow for the sale of 140 properties, though the company didn’t define when those sales will take place. At the end of November, Sears reported a narrower net loss for its fiscal third quarter than it did a year ago, as the company pushes to return to profitability against a backdrop of vendor disputes and loans coming due.
Meantime, the department store chain has been testing smaller store formats across the U.S. and in some cases moving to occupy a pint-sized portion of a bigger box, as mall operators develop their properties.
On a recent call with analysts and investors, Sears CFO Rob Riecker said the retailer would be building on those new concepts in the coming months, “delivering specialized integrated retail experiences” to customers. Sears also recently started selling two of its brands, Kenmore and DieHard, on Amazon.com.
With growing competition from online players and with more brands choosing to sell through their own platforms, department stores including Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s have been forced to rethink their strategies: what inventory they will carry and how they will get it to shoppers.
Sears shares have tumbled more than 60% over the past 12 months. The stock was falling close to 4.5% Thursday afternoon.
In a statement issued by Sears, they stated, “Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size. In the process, as previously announced we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.
Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores.
Following is a list of the impacted KMART stores: Cabot AR, Tolleson AZ, Show Low AZ, Taft CA, Cudahy CA, Ontario CA, Arroyo Grande CA, Redding CA, Colorado Springs CO, Clermont FL, Belleview FL, Ocala FL, Statesboro GA, Albany GA, Jesup GA, Red Oak IA, Urbandale IA, West Frankfort IL, Mt. Vernon IL Rockford IL, Indianapolis IN, Bloomington IN, Wichita KS, Paducah KY, Mandeville LA, Crofton MD, Salisbury MD, Richmond MI, Greenville MI, Helena MT, Butte MT, Shelby NC, Sanford NC, Franklin NC, Midway Park NC, Salisbury NC Devils Lake ND, Rochester NH, Raton NM, Tucumcari NM, Las Vegas NV, North Las Vegas NV, Plattsburgh NY, Warren OH, Enid OK, Bridgeville PA, Sayre PA, Enola PA, Harrisburg PA, Hazleton Township PA, Pittston PA, Hermitage PA, Philadelphia PA, Franklin PA, Honesdale PA, Crossville TN, Goodlettsville TN Greeneville TN, Portland TX, Rutland VT, Chehalis WA, Huntington WV, Clarksburg WV, St Albans WV.