The Sears Holdings Corporation is an American holding company headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. It is the owner of retail store brands Sears and Kmart, and was founded after the latter purchased the former in 2005. Sears Holdings also owns the brands Kenmore and DieHard. A sale of Craftsman to Stanley Black and Decker occurred in March 2017. Sears retains the rights to sell Craftsman tools for 15 years from the date of sale through the purchase of tools from their established suppliers. As of May 5, 2018, Sears Holdings operates 894 retail locations under the mastheads of Sears (506 full-line and 23 specialty stores, for at total of 529 locations) and Kmart (365 locations), though after a round of closures announced on May 31, that number will drop to about 820 . In 2015, it was the 20th-largest retailing company in the United States.
On November 17, 2004, the management of Kmart Holding Corporation announced its intention to purchase Sears, Roebuck and Co under a new corporation. Kmart previously emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 6, 2003. The new corporation became known as Sears Holdings Corporation, simply known as Sears Holdings. The new corporation announced that it would continue to operate stores under both the Sears and Kmart brands. The merger of Kmart and Sears closed on March 24, 2005, following affirmative shareholder votes of both companies. The result of the merger was Kmart and parent Kmart Holding Corporation and Sears became subsidiaries of the new Sears Holdings Corporation. Sears Holdings now operates Sears and Kmart stores. The company continues to market products under brands held by both companies.
The two companies cited several reasons for combining forces:
- Sears had begun investing in new, larger off-mall stores, called Sears Grand. Earlier in the year, Sears had purchased dozens of current Super Kmart locations; the merger permitted the combined company to accelerate that process.
- Proprietary brands held by both companies could be made more accessible to their target demographics by leveraging their combined real estate holdings. This was estimated to be an expected $200 million a year in revenue synergies.
- At least $300 million a year in cost savings was expected annually, particularly in the supply chain and in administrative overhead.
- The establishment of a shared customer-focused corporate culture between the two companies was estimated to yield improvements in revenue per unit area.
- Preservation of two brands after the merger was intended to allow Sears Holdings to continue focusing on different customer demographics, without alienating either group.
The company is directed by a board of directors composed of members from the two companies: seven members from Kmart's board, and three from Sears. Shareholders in the Kmart Holding Corporation received one share in the new company. Shares of Sears, Roebuck and Company stock were converted into a combination of 55 percent stock and 45 percent cash (at $50 a share). Stockholders had a choice of receiving either stock or cash, subject to the predefined ratio.
The merger was completed on March 24, 2005, after receiving regulatory approval from the government and approval by shareholders of both companies.
The exterior of a typical Sears Essentials store.
Sears Holdings continues to operate stores under the Sears and Kmart mastheads. In 2005, Sears introduced a new store format called Sears Essentials. As part of this new store format, some Kmart stores were converted to Sears Essentials, as well as a few locations that were acquired from Walmart and several bankrupt discount retailers. The new store format combined the Sears store concept with the Kmart format, which was intended to help the company better compete with Walmart and Target. The project has since been resigned, and merged with the Sears Grand concept.
Sears Holdings has begun cross-selling merchandise between its two brands. For example, Craftsman tools are now available in Kmart stores; they were previously exclusive to the Sears brand. However, Martha Stewart brand paint colors were discontinued at Sears.
Sears Holdings owned 51 percent of Sears Canada, a large department store chain in Canada similar to the U.S. stores. At one point it owned as much as 92% of the Canadian company, but it failed in 2006 to buy the remainder of Sears Canada that it did not own because Bill Ackman took a 17.3 percent stake in it and prevented any takeover. He accepted to sell his stake at $30 a share on April 23, 2010 .
Sears Holdings also owns 20 percent of Sears Mexico; Carlos Slim owns the other 80 percent. Like Target stores, Kmart-branded stores in Australia belong to Wesfarmers (which acquired former owners Coles Group in 2007); Wesfarmers also holds the rights to the Kmart brand in New Zealand.
In 2005, Sears Holdings sold a stake in hardware chain Orchard Supply Hardware to private equity firm Ares Management. On December 14, 2011, Sears Holdings announced that it would spin off its remaining holdings in Orchard Supply to shareholders effective December 30, 2011.
In November 2006, speculation rolled around as The Chicago Sun Times reported that Sears may buy Safeway, Home Depot, Gap, BJ's Wholesale Club, Radio Shack, Pep Boys, and Anheuser-Busch. The Washington Post, in a March 11, 2007, article, described the current Sears as a hedge fund with money being diverted from the maintenance and improvement of stores to non-retail financial investments. A former executive was quoted as saying the company faced an "uncertain future". Surprisingly, a third of pre-tax income in the third quarter of 2006, according to The Washington Post, was due to financial trades and not the retail business. However, these investments performed poorly in the fourth quarter.
In 2007, the company placed its three major brands in KCD IP, a "separate, wholly owned, bankruptcy-remote subsidiary". KCD stands for the three brands: Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard. KCD IP then issued $1.8 billion in bonds that were sold to Sears' insurance subsidiary based in Bermuda. Sears would thus pay KCD for use of the three brands' trademarks.
On December 14, 2007, the company submitted a draft merger agreement to buy Restoration Hardware for $6.75 a share. Sears already owned 13.7 percent of the company. That offer was withdrawn after Restoration's shares tumbled and a competing bid from private equity firm Catterton Partners was lowered to $4.50 per share. On February 28, Sears Holdings made an offer of $4.55 a share.
In June 2008, Sears launched Servicelive.com, which was intended to connect Sears customers with local contractors for home improvement projects. The site charges 10 percent of the contract price for each completed service, and offers more than 40,000 contractors. Servicelive.com was redesigned in March 2010. In 2010, Dennis Stemmle was appointed president of the division.
On February 22, 2010, the Sears Automotive business launched a new Independent Sears Auto Center franchise program that offers automobile dealers the opportunity to operate licensed Sears Auto Centers, with the first dealership in New Jersey.The company has faced consistent quarters of decline since the merger of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart Corp in 2005, the first year of results for the merged company. Is income plunged 84 percent from $858 million, or $6.17 per diluted share from 2005 to 2011. Eddie Lampert has held the title of chairman of Sears Holdings over the period of decline. The first quarter of 2011 did not appear any better, with the company posting a net loss of $170 million, or $1.58 a share, for the quarter ended April 30. Some industry analysts feel the heart of the problem is Eddie Lampert's "penny-pinching" cost-savings by stifling investment into stores. Instead the company has been buying back stock and increasing its presence online.
The company closed a number of stores between 2011 and 2013. On December 27, 2011, after poor holiday sales, the company announced 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart stores would close. On February 23, 2012 Sears Holdings Corp. announced it is closing all nine "The Great Indoors" stores. On December 6, 2013 Sears Holding Corp. announced that it will spin off Lands' End catalog business as a separate company by distributing stock to the retailer's stockholders. Lands' End stock began trading on the NASDAQ on April 7, 2014. In 2015, it was reported that Sears Holdings was planning to spinoff 235 of its properties into a new REIT to be called Seritage Growth Properties, with the package of properties backed by a $925 million loan from JP Morgan Chase Bank. The 235 properties, mainly Sears and Kmart locations spread across the country and Puerto Rico, amounted to a total of 37.1 million square feet of space. The strategy of department stores converting their real estate holdings into REITs has been well-used in the current commercial real estate environment.
In May 2016, Sears Holdings announced that it was seeking strategic alternatives for its house brands to increase their revenue, including expanding their presence outside of Sears and Kmart. The filing stated that "by evaluating potential partnerships or other transactions that could expand distribution of our brands and service offerings, we can position both businesses to achieve greater success."
In late 2016 and early 2017, some significant steps were taken by Edward Lampert, president, chief executive officer and top shareholder of Sears Holding Corp. Lampert, with personal assets estimated at $2 billion, is also the founder and manager of the hedge fund ESL Investments Inc. He provided an additional loan of $500 million to the company and said he would provide letters of credit to Sears for additional amounts, reportedly totaling $200 million and possibly increasing to a half billion dollars in the future. During this period, the company announced that it would close 150 stores (109 Kmart and 41 Sears outlets), in an attempt to cut its losses after a decline in sales of 12 to 13 percent during the holiday shopping season and the largest quarterly loss since 2013. On January 9, 2017, Sears announced that it had reached an agreement to sell the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million, plus royalties on new Craftsman sales for a 15-year period. During this period, Sears will continue selling Craftsman products royalty-free under a licensing agreement.
As part of an effort to extend the brand, Sears launched a pilot location in San Antonio for a DieHard-branded auto service franchise, DieHard Auto Center driven by Sears Auto. The brand is intended to operate as a standalone version of the Sears Auto Center locations attached to Sears department stores; the location was chosen because it was in proximity to a Sears location that had closed. In December 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sears Holdings Corp. had not paid for any national television commercials since late November 2017, for both Kmart and Sears, instead relying on online marketing.
On January 4, 2018, Sears Holdings announced it would shutter 103 unprofitable Kmart and Sears stores, after 24 quarters of sales declines. These stores would be closing by April 2018, leaving Sears Holdings with 555 stores.According to an op-ed in MSN money, at this rate, Sears along with sister company Kmart, has an extremely high chance of disappearing and going defunct in 2018, and that 2017 will have marked its final holiday season as an independent brand.
On January 14, 2018 their Canadian unit, Sears Canada, ceased operations with all stores closed.
On March 15, 2018, Sears Holdings announced a small profit was made in quarter 4 of 2017. However, investors are claiming that this is due to tax refunds and that sales are still falling for both Kmart and Sears.
- Kmart is a chain of discount stores that are usually free-standing or located in strip malls. They carry electronics, music, movies, bedding, household hardware, sporting goods, clothing, toys, jewelry, office supplies, health and beauty products, home decor, and a limited selection of food items. Many stores also have a garden center, a Jackson Hewitt tax center, a pharmacy, and usually a K-Cafe or a deli serving Nathan's Hot Dogs and pizza. As of May 5, 2018, there are a total of 365 Kmart stores, averaging 95,000 sq ft (8,800 m2). Kmart stores range from 80,000 to 110,000 sq ft (7,400 to 10,200 m2). Some of these stores were converted into Super Kmart, and most of them were converted into Big Kmart. Urban multilevel variants of a Kmart store are located in Middle Village, Queens, New York; and Southbury, Connecticut. The world's largest Kmart store is located in Guam.
- Big Kmart is a sub-chain of discount stores that carry everything a regular Kmart carries, but with an emphasis on home decor, children's clothing, and more. They also carry a limited assortment of pantry items, canned goods, cereals, etc. Big Kmart branded locations have refrigerated cases that sell milk, a very limited assortment of cheese and lunch meat, hot dogs, etc.; however, they do not feature a bakery, a delicatessen, or fresh seafood. Big Kmart stores range from 84,000 to 120,000 sq ft (7,800 to 11,100 m2). Big Kmart stores may also feature a garden center, a pharmacy, a branch of a local bank, a Jackson Hewitt tax center, an Olan Mills portrait studio, an arcade, a K-Cafe or Little Caesars Pizza station, and sometimes a Kmart Express gas station. Since the merger with Sears, many stores have been rebranded simply to Kmart.
- K-Fresh is a new format that was implemented in several Super Kmart locations including Chillicothe, Ohio and a location in Pennsylvania. This new format takes out the fresh meat, deli, seafood, and fresh bakery departments and replaces it with trucked in items in those categories. Along with an expanded pantry department. Also the 24-hour format was discontinued in favor of closing at 11 pm.
- mygofer is an on-line and brick-and-mortar retail concept launched in spring of 2009, proposing to make shopping better and life easier by offering its customers the benefits of online shopping, paired with the convenience of a storefront.
An older Sears exterior with newer signage.
- Sears is a chain of department stores that are usually located in shopping malls. There are a few freestanding locations. These stores carry clothing, jewelry, home appliances, household hardware, lawn and garden supplies, lawn mowers, paint, sporting goods, automobile repair, and electronics. Sears stores are usually multi-level. There are 506 full-size Sears stores in the United States, averaging 139,000 sq ft (12,900 m2). There are also 301 Sears locations in Canada and 66 in Mexico. The largest Sears full-line Store was located at the Toronto Eaton Centre in Canada (816,000 square feet (75,800 m2)), but it closed its doors on February 23, 2014.
- Sears Grand is a sub-chain of hypermarkets typically located away from shopping malls. Many Sears Grand locations are retrofit remodels of existing Kmart stores. They carry everything a Sears department store carries, plus health and beauty products, a pharmacy, toys, baby care, cleaning supplies, home décor, pet food, cards and party supplies, books, magazines, music, movies, and a selection of groceries which is limited mostly to dry goods. Sears Grand stores range from 165,000 to 210,000 square feet (15,300 to 19,500 m2). The first Sears Grand opened at Jordan Landing in West Jordan, Utah in 2003. At 225,000 square feet (20,900 m2), the Jordan Landing store is currently the largest in the chain. There are currently 8 Sears Grand locations.
- Sears Home Services is a division of Sears that specializes in appliance repair, lawn and garden services, HVAC service, as well as most in home services. Sears Home Services can also do repair on small appliances in-store.
- Sears PartsDirect is a chain of lawn-and-garden equipment and appliances parts stores. Some stores, branded as Sears Parts and Repair Centers, feature a carry-in point for customers to bring merchandise in that needs to be repaired either in- or out-of- warranty.
- Sears Vacations is a licensed business partner of Sears Holdings Corporation, founded in February 2012 in conjunction with International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. Sears Vacations functions as an online travel agency that provides online and telephone based booking services for Sears customers through the SearsVacations.com website. Among the travel services provided Sears Vacations offers Cruises, Resorts, Hotels, Tours, Guided Vacations, Rental Cars, Airline Tickets, Shore Excursions, Vacation Rentals, and Travel Insurance.
- Shop Your Way, a customer loyalty program, that allows customers to accumulate points on purchases made at Sears and Kmart and with partner companies in order to receive rewards or discounts.
- A&E Factory Service is a joint venture held by Whirlpool and Sears Holdings. A&E Factory Service is a network of mobile service vans with a long history of performing appliance repairs.
- "Wally Labs" is a subsidiary created when Sears Holdings purchased the rights to WallyHome sensor technology from SNUPI Technologies in 2015.
- Lands' End - Aside from carrying the Lands' End clothing line at 227 "store within a store" departments inside Sears domestic full-line locations, Averaging 7,700 square feet. Sears Holdings also operated fourteen Lands' End stores that exclusively carry Lands' End clothing and various fashion accessories, footwear and home goods. These stores which average 9,300 square feet are located in outlet malls and regular malls.
- Kmart Super Center was a sub-chain of hypermarkets that carried everything a regular Kmart carries, but also had a full grocery section with meat and poultry, baked goods, a delicatessen, garden produce, and fresh seafood. Kmart Super Center stores ranged from 140,000 to 190,000 sq ft (13,000 to 18,000 m2). These stores were also known as Super Kmart. Super Center stores also featured a garden center, a video rental store, a branch of a local bank, an arcade, a portrait studio, a Jackson Hewitt tax center, a pharmacy, and usually a deli cafe or Little Caesars Pizza station. Several also included Kmart Express gas stations, and most had an auto center. Most of the Super Kmarts were closed during the two rounds of closures in 2002 and 2003, and 20 had their groceries taken out, converting them into standard Kmart locations. Some of the surviving Super Kmarts were those in regions without a strong Walmart presence, including Ohio and Michigan. A typical Super Center sold around 30 million dollars of merchandise during one fiscal year. In 2018 Sears Holdings announced the last remaining Super Kmart Center was closing.
- Sears Essentials, a sub-chain of department stores that were located away from shopping malls (free-standing), and carried everything a regular Sears would, plus health and beauty products, toys, baby care, cleaning supplies, home décor, pet food, cards and party supplies, books, magazines, music, films, and a limited amount of food items. Sears Essentials stores were between 70,000 and 100,000 square feet (6,500 to 9,300 m2). These stores were essentially Sears-Kmart hybrid stores. Many Sears Essentials featured a Little Caesars Pizza Station. Sears Essentials had a pilot program wherein some stores have had the Kmart merchandise (food, health/beauty, stationery, cleaning supplies) removed, Sears merchandise assortment expanded, and rebranded as Sears Grand.
- Sears Hometown (formerly Sears Dealer Store), a chain of smaller stores that are operated as a store where the proprietor owned or leased the real estate while Sears Holdings handled the marketing and owned the inventory, and there were no franchising fees levied against the store proprietor. These stores were usually located in smaller markets that did not support full-sized Sears stores. They were signed as Sears and were usually free-standing or located in strip malls. averaging 8,500 square feet. These locations primarily concentrated on hardware, appliances and lawn-and-garden supplies. This was originally intended as a replacement to the now-discontinued Sears Catalog. There were 180 dealer stores in Canada. Sears announced in 2012 that it would spin off Sears Outlet and Hometown Stores into a new company called Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (originally to be called Newco).
- Sears Appliance & Hardware, a chain of hardware stores that carried the whole line of Sears hardware and were usually free-standing or located in strip malls. Typically, these stores were about 28,000 square feet (2,600 m2). In 2005 and 2006, some of these locations closed due to their proximity to, and therefore competition with, nearby Sears department stores.
- Sears Home Appliance Showrooms was a store that offered home appliances and related services in-store. The stores had an Internet kiosk where customers were able to view similar products, price match, and order products that were not available in the store. They were primarily located in strip malls and centers of metropolitan areas. Averaging 5,000 square feet with a primarily appliance showroom design. These stores carried Kenmore and other national brands of home appliances.
- Sears Outlet an outlet version of Sears department stores located in various retail locations across the U.S. and Canada. The stores carried new, one-of-a-kind, out of carton, discontinued, used, scratched, and dented merchandise at twenty to sixty percent off regular retail price. While a wide variety of products were available, appliances made up a large majority of available merchandise. There were eleven outlet stores across Canada (with one as a liquidation center). Each store, on average, was larger than 18,000 square feet in size. Sears announced in 2012 it would spin off Sears Outlet and Hometown Stores into a new company called Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores.
- Sears Appliance Outlet, an appliance-only version of Sears Outlet.
- Sears Fashion Outlet, a fashion-only version of Sears Outlet.
- The Great Indoors was a chain of free-standing home-décor stores that carry high-end appliances, bedding, and kitchen-and-bath fixtures. The Great Indoors also offered custom kitchen and bathroom design services. The Great Indoors stores were 130,000 square feet (12,000 m2). Originally, these stores also sold high-end electronics. On February 23, 2012 Sears Holdings Corp. announced it is closing all nine The Great Indoors stores.
- Orchard Supply Hardware, a chain of free-standing hardware stores, which averaged 28,000 square feet. Stores carried home repair, hardware products and lawn and garden supplies, found primarily in California. It began as an independent business in 1931, was purchased by Sears in 1996, and was spun off from Sears in January 2012.
- Adam Levine Collection - women's and men's clothing and accessories
- Alphaline - television accessories & wall mounts, headphones, cables & cases, and formerly Wii accessories
- Allstate (1926-1995) - tires, batteries, insurance, automobiles
- Attention - branded misses clothing and jewelry
- Bongo - branded teen clothing
- Canyon River Blues - branded clothing for all
- Celestial Star - branded International Gemological Institute-certified diamond fine jewelry
- Cheryl Tiegs (1981-1989) - discontinued girls & women's fashions and sportswear
- Coldspot (1928-1976) - discontinued refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners
- Companion - tools (economy tools, non-lifetime warranty)
- Covington - branded men's and misses clothing and footwear
- Evolv - tools (economy tools, limited warranty), until 2018
- David Bradley (1910-1966) - discontinued plows, lawn & garden equipment, chain saws, furniture, barbecue grills
- DieHard - auto, marine, tractor batteries, and work boots
- Dream Out Loud - teen clothing collection by actress Selena Gomez
- Dunlap - discontinued economy-priced tool brand
- Easy Living - discontinued paint, primers, and accessories
- Economy (1902-1947) - discontinued cream separators, iceboxes, fountain pens, sewing machine cabinets, gasoline engines, portable saw rigs, farm equipment
- Galaxy - branded discount appliances
- Hercules (1908-1965) - discontinued boilers, work clothing, appliances, air conditioners, insurance, sewage systems, letterman's jackets, fire extinguishers
- Hydro-Glass - jet pumps
- Kenmore - appliances and TVs
- Kardashian Kollection (2012)
- Kromedge (1955-1991) - tools with super-hard chrome plating
- J.C. Higgins (1907-1964) - discontinued sporting-goods, luggage, hunting, fishing, boating and camping equipment (not to be confused with JCPenney)
- Jaclyn Smith - branded clothing and home decor
- Joe Boxer - branded underwear and home decor
- Latina Life - branded misses clothing and jewelry
- LXI - discontinued electronics brand
- MAPP - gas torch kits
- Muzzler - car mufflers
- Parallel - branded misses clothing
- Penske - automotive testing equipment, automotive filters and parts
- Personal Identity - branded juniors clothing
- Pilgrim (1905-1964) - discontinued clothing for men, women, and children
- Promise Your Love - branded diamond fashion, diamond bridal, and lab created pink sapphire and ruby fine jewelry
- Protron - branded discount electronics
- Roebucks - boots, pants, shirts, and coveralls
- Route 66 - branded clothing
- Sears - Sears-branded tools and automotive parts
- Sears-O-Pedic - high end mattresses made by Serta
- Sears Tires - includes The Road Handler, Guardsman, Dynaglass, DynaPly, Silent Guard, Sears Crusader, Dyna-Sport, Superwide
- Sesame Street - branded clothing
- Simply Love - branded diamond solitaire fine jewelry
- Silvertone (1915-1972) - discontinued phonographs, radios, musical instruments, audio/video equipment, TVs
- Smart Sense - grocery brand
- The SteadyRider - automotive shock absorbers
- Structure - branded young men's clothing (label originally part of what is now the Express chain, purchased by Sears in 2003)
- Ted Williams Brand (1961-1970s) - sporting and recreation goods (replaced the J.C. Higgins brand)
- Thom McAn shoes
- Toughskins - branded children's clothing
- Two Hearts - branded maternity clothing
- Ty Pennington Style - home decor
- Weatherbeater - discontinued paint, primers, and accessories
- Winnie the Pooh - branded children's clothing
The company sponsors, through the Sears Auto Centers, the Formula Drift Darren McNamara Sears/Falken Saturn Sky drift car. It sponsored the NASCAR Truck Series, using the Craftsman brand as the title sponsor, from the series' inception in the 1995 NASCAR SuperTruck Series presented by Craftsman to the 2008 season, when the agreement ended. Craftsman tools remain the official tools of NASCAR. The company sponsored the television series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It sponsors and currently has naming rights to the Sears Centre, an 11,000-seat multi-purpose family entertainment, cultural and sports center, constructed in 2006 and location in Hoffman Estates. The company also sponsored the PBS television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, under the name The Sears-Roebuck Foundation from the show's premiere in 1968 until 1992. It sponsored the #10 Gillett Evernham Motorsports car of Scott Riggs for the September 2, 2007, running of the Sharp AQUOS 500 at California Speedway through its Sears Auto Center branch. However, Riggs failed to qualify for the event. In 2016, Craftsman became the title sponsor of the World Racing Group, World of Outlaws Sprint car racing series.
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...took over as Sears CEO in 2013 ... has presided over a remarkable dismantling.
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The company may need $2.5 billion in cash to get through 2017 amid sales declines and store closures, including almost $600 million in minimum pension contributions.
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