Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton Kmart to close

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The Chesterton Kmart at 750 Indian Boundary Road is closing.

On Wednesday, Sears Holdings Corporation--the owner of Kmart and Sears--announced that 78 Kmart stores and 26 Sears across the country would be shuttered by the end of March.

On that list: Chesterton’s Kmart.

“The decision to close stores is a difficult but necessary step as we take actions to strengthen the company’s operations and fund its transformation,” Sears Holdings said. “Many of these stores have struggled with their financial performance for years and we have kept them open to maintain local jobs and in the hopes that they would turn around.”

“But in order to meet our objective of returning to profitability, we have to make tough decisions and will continue to do so, which will give our better performing stores a chance at success,” Sears Holdings added. “Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart and Sears stores.”

Wednesday’s announcement comes only eight days after Sears Holdings reported, on Dec. 27, the closure of 30 other Kmart stores and 16 Sears.

Sears Holdings noted on Wednesday that the 150 stores in question have collectively generated $1.2 billion in sales over the last 12 months but still incurred an adjusted EBITDA loss--earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amoritization--of $60 million in the same period. “We expect to generate a significant amount of cash from the liquidation of the inventory and related assets of these stores,” the company said.

Sears Holdings also announced on Wednesday an agreement to sell its Craftsman tool business to Stanley Black & Decker, for $525 million on closing and an additional $250 million in three years.

“We are taking strong, decisive actions today to stabilize the company and improve our financial flexibility in what remains a challenging retail environment,” Sears Holdings Chair and CEO Edward Lampert said. “We are committed to improving short-term operating performance in order to achieve our long-term transformation.”

For the third quarter of 2016, Sears Holdings reported a net loss of $748 million or $6.99 per diluted share, compared to a net loss in the year-ago period of $454 million or $4.26.

Sears Holdings said that liquidation sales at the affected stores could begin as early as Friday.

The Chesterton Kmart

The Chesterton Kmart appears to have been dodging the bullet for some time. In September, Sears Holdings announced the closure nationwide of 64 Kmart and Sears stores by December, following the closure of 78 other stores over the summer. More than 200 stores were shuttered in 2015.

Shoppers who’ve recently visited the Chesterton Kmart may have noticed that the electronics department has been largely gutted, with a poor selection of oddments and leftovers, and mattresses of all things moved into the space.

Meanwhile, a Town of Chesterton department head told the Chesterton Tribune today that he’s been notified by a local Kmart rep that the store will officially close on March 26 and that the store is no longer accepting charges on the town’s account for materials purchases.

Chesterton Building Department records indicate that the Kmart at 750 Indian Boundary Road opened for business in 1981, the same year that the company’s 2000th store opened.

The Porter County Recorder’s Office gives the address of the Kmart property’s owner as 3333 Beverly Road in Hoffman Estates, Ill., the same address listed by Sears Holding Corporation as its corporate headquarters.

The Chesterton Kmart’s imminent closure will leave a vacant big box in what has been, over the last 10 years, a more or less thriving commercial strip. But it’s not the first big box on Indian Boundary Road to go empty. In 2001, the old Jewel space--owned at the time by Tom Roberts--went vacant, when Jewel built its current store across the street. Yet Jewel retained control of the old building, renewing its lease in 2001 and then reportedly refusing to sublease it to another grocery or pharmacy.

Then, in 2005, LZK LLC--principals and white knights Jeff Katz and Jim Lyons--purchased the property from Roberts and just three years later, in 2008, orchestrated its sale to the Sisters of Saint Francis Health Services Inc. The building was subsequently razed and the $20 million Franciscan Alliance ER department erected in its place.

According to the average wage for Kmart employees is $8.81 per hour, with cashiers earning the least--$7.01 to $9.46 per hour--and certified pharmacy technicians earning the most--$9.66 to $14.33 per hour.



Posted 1/5/2017




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