126-Year-Old Sears Gets Reprieve to Stay In Business… for Now

The retail giant hasn’t been profitable since 2010.

Sears' Chairman is also its biggest creditor. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

After 126 years in business, Sears was set to close its doors.

The retail giant’s lawyers had planned to inform a bankruptcy court that it rejected a $4.4 billion acquisition offer from Sears chairman Eddie Lampert, but the judge ruled that the would-be owner had more time.

He will now need to pay a $120 million deposit by 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, just to be allowed to participate in a previously scheduled auction for liquidators on Monday.

In 1985, department stores accounted for over 14% of all North American retail purchases. But by 2017 that number had dropped to only 4.3%.

Sears filed for bankruptcy in October with a little under 700 stores open. Since the filing, the home goods and appliance retailer shuttered nearly 300 stores, laying off some 15,000-plus workers. That was only the beginning.

Lampert has been attempting to save the retailer by purchasing it out of bankruptcy using his hedge fund ESL Investments. The money man failed to combine Sears and Kmart in 2005, losing out to retailers like Walmart and Amazon who had made a positive pivot to digital sales.

Sears’s last profitable year was in 2010.

Although Lampert saw previous success turning around auto parts giant AutoZone, the same rebound has not been replicated at Sears and Kmart.

“Walmart and Target proved relentless in their competition,” CNBC reported. “The companies scaled quickly and poured money into private label brands, which were better in quality than those sold at Sears and Kmart.”

Lampert believed that Sears’ strong loyalty program meant they shouldn’t invest in their physical stores — the ones still open, at least. Sales fell and the company’s losses stacked up.

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