Retailing icon Sears files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as Del. stores survive another wave of closings

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Sears and Kmart owner Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today.

The company, which is down to a handful of stores in Delaware, made the widely expected filing in the Southern District of New York. The company will close another 142 stores and sell other assets.

Delaware escaped the latest wave of closings.

Sears says it is negotiating with “major stakeholders,” a process that started before the filing. It is also negotiating with a “stalking horse” buyer for the purchase of store properties.

An entity controlled by Edward Lampert, the company’s largest shareholder, agreed to provide $300 million in interim financing.

Most stores will remain open, according to a release. So far this year, the company exited Dover, closed its Prices Corner location west of Wilmington and is in the process of closing a Kmart in Newark. An auto center in Dover remains open.

“Over the last several years, we have worked hard to transform our business and unlock the value of our assets,” saidEdward S. Lampert, chairman of Sears Holdings. “While we have made progress, the plan has yet to deliver the results we have desired, and addressing the company’s immediate liquidity needs has impacted our efforts to become a profitable and more competitive retailer.”

Lampert has stepped down as CEO of Sears.

Lampert gained control of Sears after a successful effort to buy Kmart, which had gone into bankruptcy proceedings. The turnaround never happened as the company continued to close stores.

Online retailers like Amazon andbig box giants like WalMart,Lowe’s and Home Depot took away sales and Sears was forced to offer its iconic brands to other retailers.

Lowe’s is now carrying Sears’ formerly exclusive Craftsman brand in everything from snow blowers to tools. Kmarts also started selling Sears products.

The departure of Sears, Kmart and department store retailers has contributed to the growth in the number of “ghost malls” around the nation. In other cases, fitness centers, medical clinisand other uses go into vacant space

Additional information is available on the Company’s restructuring website at restructuring.searsholdings.com. For court filings and other documents related to the court-supervised process, visit http://restructuring.primeclerk.com/sears

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