Local Sears, Kmarts spared closing axe

Photos by Rhonda Sanders

Photos by Rhonda Sanders

FLINT TWP. —So far, so good. None of the local Sears or Kmarts are on the store closing list Sears Holdings Corp. released last week.

Speculation was rife nationwide for two days after Sears Holdings announced on Dec. 27 plans to close 100 to 120 of its stores because of declining sales.

Six Michigan stores are on the partial list of 80 stores Sears released Dec. 29 and updated on Dec. 30 but with another 20-40 store closings still to be announced, local stores are not yet in the clear.

Local holdings include a Sears department store and Sears Auto Center at Genesee Valley Center mall and a Service Center & Repair on Linden Road across the street from the mall. Sears department store is the mall’s oldest tenant, dating back to May1970 when Genesee Valley first opened.

Also in the crosshairs is the Kmart at 3083 Miller Road, which is Genesee County’s second oldest location, dating back to 1964. Other Kmart stores include the county’s oldest store at 4002 S. Dort in Flint (1963) and the third and fourth oldest stores at 1145 N. Belsay Road in Burton (1975), opened in 1975, and 12730 S. Saginaw Road in Grand Blanc (1978). Kmarts newer stores in Genesee County are in Fenton, 1995, and Vienna Township, 1999.

Above: Sears at the Genesee Valley Center, the mall’s anchor for 40 years, and Kmart on Miller Road, were both spared in the recent round of store closures by Sears Corp.

Above: Sears at the Genesee Valley Center, the mall’s anchor for 40 years, and Kmart on Miller Road, were both spared in the recent round of store closures by Sears Corp.

Sears and Kmart stores merged in 2005 after Kmart emerged from bankruptcy protection which included closing some 300 stores nationwide.

The recent slate of closing were the latest in an ongoing decline in recent years. Sears Holdings also announced closing four stores in the first quarter of 2011 and another 35 closings and 14 conversions in the second quarter of 2011. Another 25 stores were closed in 2010..

In this latest round of closing, Sears officials said that sales for the quarter and year ending Dec. 25 were down 5.2 percent and 2.6 percent. That included a 4.4 percent quarterly drop and 1.8 percent year-to-date loss at Kmart coupled with 6.0 quarterly decline at Sears domestic stores and a 3.3 percent decline for the year, according to the Dec. 27 press release.

The Kmart decline is attributed to a drop in sales of consumer electronics and apparel and fewer layaways. Consumers’ buying fewer electronics and home appliances account for Sears’ sales decline, the company said. Also apparel sales were flat except for a modest increase in Land’s End merchandise.

To offset sales declines, closing stores was one of several strategies announced.

“Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” said Chief Executive Officer Lou D’Ambrosio in the press release.

“These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail – at the store, online and in the home.”

By closing stores, the company expects to generate $140 to $170 million from inventory and additional proceeds from the sale or sublease of the buildings, he said

Additional savings are expected from better inventory management, targeted pricing and promotion and reduction of fixed costs by $100- to $200 million.

Sears Holdings Corporation is the nation’s fourth largest broadline retailer with approximately 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada.

It is one of the last of the retail old-timers with origins dating back to the late 1800s. Kmart stores, founded in 1962, also date back to the late 1800s through its parent company Detroit-based S.S. Kressge.

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