Sears files for bankruptcy as the retail apocalypse continues apace

Sears CEO Eddie Lampert and a Sears store

Sears CEO Eddie Lampert and a Sears store

More than 100,000 retired Sears employees are believed to hold pensions, which bankruptcy should protect. Sears and Kmart stores will remain open with help from $600 million in new loans, but the company will shut 142 unprofitable outlets near the end of the year, on top of 46 unprofitable stores already scheduled for closure by November.

The longtime American shopping mall anchor is trying to stave off a complete shutdown of not only Sears department stores but the Kmart stores it also owns. In the last two years alone, it closed more than 725 Sears and Kmart stores nationwide.

Meanwhile, Sears workers are nervous about what kind of severance they'll receive if their store closes. The number of stores peaked in 2012 at 4,000, including its Sears Canada division that was later spun off. The original Kmart store in Garden City closed previous year.

Sears, the iconic United States chain of department stores, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, buckling under its massive debt load and staggering losses.

Analysts have speculated for years that Sears was a sinking ship.

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Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp.is Sears' seventh-largest creditor, owed more than $23 million.

But ultimately, it was not possible to achieve a successful restructuring outside a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, ESL said.

The Sears workforce has dwindled to about 68,000 from 302,000 a decade ago. But it wasn't able to keep up with shifting consumer habits as online rivals including Amazon.com Inc. siphoned off shoppers, while turnaround efforts were hobbled by mountains of debt.

At various times, Sears brands have included Allstate Insurance, Coldwell Banker real estate and Discover Card.

The company, which started out as a mail-order catalog in the late 1800s and expanded to locations around the country, has been unable to compete with retailers like Walmart and Target, along with the continued growth of e-commerce sites. Sears recently added a restructuring expert as a company director for an additional layer of guidance on how to navigate a bankruptcy filing. Lampert has stepped down as CEO but will remain chairman.

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