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Sears' turn around timeline is shrinking - and it could be next in line to declare bankruptcy

Monday, April 24, 2017  
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By Hayley Peterson / April 24, 2017

Time is running out for Sears to turn business around. 

S&P Global Market Intelligence has identified Sears as the most vulnerable public retail company in the US, saying it has a 24% chance of default within a year.

This comes after Sears revealed Friday that it has lost its second chief financial officer in six months, just as it begins talks with lenders over a looming $500 million debt payment.

Sears also said Friday that it's planning to cut more costs and that it's reviewing bids in excess of $700 million for more than 60 of its real estate properties.

Selling off real estate will give the company a much-needed cash infusion, but it also diminishes the company's lifeline as it struggles to staunch losses, according to Moody's vice president and senior analyst Christina Boni.

"Sears’ financial performance remains extremely weak which is prompting the acceleration of cost reductions by an additional $250 million," Boni said Monday. "Its effort to sell real estate which has produced over $700 million of bids currently will enhance liquidity, but accelerates the timeline required to stem operating losses as it asset base diminishes."   

Sears CFO Jason Hollar left the company to "pursue another career opportunity," the company said Friday. Hollar was appointed to the role in October 2016 following the departure of Robert Schriesheim, the company's CFO since 2011.

Sears has named Rob Riecker to replace Hollar, effective immediately. Riecker was previously Sears' controller and head of capital markets activities.

A Sears store in Richmond, Virginia. Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Hollar is the fifth member of Sears’ senior executive team to leave the company in the last four months.

John Moore, formerly Sears’ head of retail services, left the company this month. Last month, the company lost former Kmart president and chief member officer Alasdair James.

Jeffrey Balagna, formerly Sears' executive vice president, and Joelle Maher, formerly Sears' president and chief member officer, left in December.

The turnover comes as the company struggles to cut costs and revive business following years of declines in customer traffic and sales. Sears has been selling off assets to stay afloat as it burns through cash.

It is facing a looming payment in July from the maturation of a $500 million loan facility, and said it is in talks to evaluate refinancing options for the loan, and will provide an update on the status of those efforts prior to the end of May.

The company also provided an update on planned cost savings, saying it would close 50 Sears Auto Center locations and 92 pharmacies at Kmart stores.

The company has already closed 150 Kmart and Sears stores this year, and more closures are on the way. The company has informed several Sears and Kmart stores that they will close by July, as Business Insider reported Thursday.  

 

 


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