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Sears closes more stores as sales are reduced by 26th consecutive quarter



Sears Holdings
Corp.


SHLD -6.69%

said on Thursday it plans to close another 72 stores it considers unprofitable, as the company continues to struggle with falling sales.

Sears has been closing hundreds of stores in recent years, selling brands and splintering divisions to stay afloat as losses have increased and as it struggles to keep its customers away from

Walmart
Inc.,

Amazon.com
Inc.


AMZN 0.75%

and other points of sale.

The company said a list of the 72 stores would be published later on Thursday.

The new round of store closures occurs as the retailer reported that sales fell in the last quarter, extending a string of declines going back more than six years in the once dominant retailer.

The last time Sears sales increased from the previous year was in the third quarter of 2011, when the company had $ 9.4 billion in revenue, according to data from

Thomson Reuters
.

In the last quarter, total merchandise sales fell 34% to $ 2.2 billion. Total revenues, which include money generated by household appliances and product repair services, fell 31% to $ 2.89 billion.

Same store sales at Sears locations fell 13.4%, while they decreased 9.5% at Kmart locations. The company operated 894 total locations as of May 5, compared to approximately 1,275 on the same date of the previous year.

Currently, Sears is evaluating whether to give up its brand of Kenmore appliances and other units. The moves follow the insistence of the executive director of Sears

Edward Lampert,

who has proposed that his hedge fund buy the assets if the company can not find other buyers.

Mr. Lampert, who is also Sears' biggest investor and one of its largest lenders, said in a letter to the Sears board in April that its ESL Investments Inc., which owns a majority stake in the retailer, is willing to bid for Kenmore, the Sears house. Improvements and direct business of parties, as well as some real estate, including $ 1.2 billion in debt secured by the properties.

Sears hired consultants and said earlier this month that it initiated a formal sale process. On Tuesday, ESL, in another letter to the Sears board of directors, said it had received "numerous in-coming consultations from potential partners," and requested permission from the special board committee to engage with such partners in order to "present a proposal. "

Investors, suppliers and owners have been increasingly concerned about the future of the company, which has forced Sears to pay in cash in advance many goods and ESL regularly extends the credit of the company. The Canadian arm of Sears sought protection from creditors last year and decided to liquidate it. Sears split most of its share in

Sears Canada

in recent years, but retained a 12% stake.

The company's stock, which more than a decade ago changed to more than $ 100, now languish at around $ 3. Sears shares fell 3.4% before commercialization on Thursday.

Last year, Sears reached an agreement to sell Kenmore products at Amazon.com Inc., expanding its reach beyond the Sears and Kmart stores. He also started selling his DieHard batteries at Amazon. In 2017, he sold his Craftsman brand to

Stanley Black & Decker
Inc.,

which is expanding the distribution of tools, lawn and garden equipment to other retailers.

Mr. Lampert's interest in buying Kenmore and other businesses extends a series of transactions in which he is often on both sides. In addition to serving as president and CEO of Sears, he is also president and a major investor in

Seritage

which is among the largest landowners of Sears.

Write to Suzanne Kapner at Suzanne.Kapner@wsj.com and Allison Prang at allison.prang@wsj.com

.


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