More importantly; why does someone keep bringing Sears back to life?
The US-based retailer has been struggling for years now to stay in business. 2018 saw the official demise of the company, or so we thought, because it’s still hanging on by a thread. Today it was announced that Sears is being given one final chance to stay in business. A bankruptcy judge has granted the company the opportunity to make one, large payment in the next four days. If the company succeeds, it could save 50,000 jobs from disappearing virtually overnight. Sears currently has 425 stores open, including its Kmart brand stores.
Last Minute Decisions
Eddie Lampert, the Chairman of Sears, has been given one final opportunity to make a $120 million down payment in order to save the business. The payment must be submitted by Wednesday afternoon or the business will face liquidation. The company has entered an auction period where it will face liquidation until January 14. If Lampert cannot come up with the money in the next day, Sears will face total, immediate liquidation. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just a couple of months ago on October 15.
The money troubles for Sears are nothing new, though. When Amazon started rising to the top, brick and mortar businesses like Sears, Macy’s—even Target and Wal-Mart—had to make some extreme changes to keep up with the changing economy. Consumers aren’t going to drive to their nearest department store when they can buy the same product online, often for a cheaper price, and have it delivered to their door in as little as two hours. Many of the aforementioned companies were able to adapt with a bit of branding and service change. But Sears and Kmart were not so lucky. The retailers have had to scale back quite a bit in the last couple of years, and the company’s rising debt has left them feeling weary of their future.
Part of American History
Sears is an old business, and represents much of the ethos of the American Dream we still talk about today. It began in 1863 as a mail order watch company, when the founder, Richard Warren Sears, realized that he could buy in bulk and sell for a profit. The company started under the name R. W. Sears, and quickly grew into a massive catalog company with over 500 pages of items by 1895. The company revolutionized shopping for the American consumer, but it couldn’t stay that way forever.
Maybe the company could have been saved with a massive rebranding campaign right when Amazon started to change the industry once again, but we’ll never know. When/if Lampert raises the funds in time to make the deadline, the company will have to decide quickly what its next steps will be.