Sears files for bankruptcy as CEO steps down

Sears files for bankruptcy as CEO steps down
Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, announcing that its CEO is stepping down and another 142 stores will be shuttered by the end of 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Sears Holdings Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday and announced that its CEO would be stepping aside for the restructuring process.

What are the details?

The company issued a statement confirming that it has filed voluntary petitions for bankruptcy relief in an effort to “continue streamlining its operating model and grow profitability for the long term.”

CEO Ed Lambert has also resigned his post to allow a team of executives to take over day-to-day operations, and restructuring expert Mohsin Meghji will lead the firm’s transition into Chapter 11.

Lambert will still remain chairman of the board, as the company’s largest investor and creditor, but a new independent director, William Transier, has been appointed due to his expertise in overseeing complex capital reorganizations.

While the company said its Sears and Kmart stores will continue to operate as usual, another 142 unprofitable locations will be shuttered by the end of 2018.

Is this a surprise?

Analysts have speculated for years that Sears was a sinking ship. The firm has closed hundreds of stores over the last decade, carries more than $5.6 billion in debt, has seen its stock price decimated and sold off several of its major brands in an effort to stay afloat.

Retail advisor Paula Rosenblum told USA Today, “The carcass has had everything picked off its bones,” saying, “this is one of the saddest retail stories I’ve ever seen. … Sears was the Amazon of its day. Think about the Sears catalog. It was everything you could” now order online.

Lambert was quoted in the company’s announcement as saying, “The Chapter 11 process will give Holdings the flexibility to strengthen its balance sheet, enabling the Company to accelerate its strategic transformation, continue right sizing its operating model, and return to profitability.”

But experts aren’t so sure of a rosy outcome for the once-iconic company. GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders didn’t mince words when he told Business Insider on Monday, “The problem in Sears’ case is that it is a poor retailer. Put bluntly, it has failed on every facet of retailing from assortment to service to merchandise to basic shop-keeping standards.

“That failure has manifested itself in lost customers, lost market share, and a brand that has become tarnished and increasingly irrelevant,” Saunders concluded.