The demise of Sears has at least been stalled after a 4.6 billion dollar offer was made by Transform Holdco. The offer is to purchase 435 of the about 500 Sears and K-Mart stores still left in operation. Transform Holdco is a hedge fund that affiliated with Eddie Lampert’s ESL Investments. Lampert is also the chairman of Sears Holdings. The offer still must be accepted by the board of Sears Holding. On the same day that the offer was made, Sears also announced the closure of 80 more stores across the country.
Transform Holdco’s offer was made just hours before the company was set to go into liquidation. Sears filed for bankruptcy protection on October 14, 2018, and had been given a December 28th deadline to find a buyer of its assets. Sears has been in serious decline for some time and has sold of many of its familiar brand names, such as Craftsman and Lands’ End, and much of its former real estate holdings. Even the iconic Sears Tower has been sold in an effort to save the company. Lampert himself has invested at least 500 million dollars into the company.
Though Lampert has kept the company afloat for longer than most had expected, few observers believe there is any chance that the former retail titan can survive. Sears currently employs about 68,000 people, with about 50,000 jobs expecting to be saved if the 4.6 billion dollar offer is accepted. Sears was once the longtime largest retailer in the United States. Founded in 1893, its mail order catalog was an ubiquitous part of daily life for most Americans from rural farms to urban high rises. However, the company began losing market share in the 1980s and by 1993 the catalog was discontinued. Despite many attempts to revive the business, including a merger with fellow retailer K-Mart, Sears sales have diminished and profits have become non-existent.