Sears will reportedly pursue liquidation

  • Sears will ask a bankruptcy judge to pursue liquidation after rejecting a $4.4 billion takeover bid from its chairman, Eddie Lampert, according to Reuters.
  • Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments, said his bid would have kept up to 50,000 of Sears’ 68,000 workers employed.

Sears on Tuesday will ask a bankruptcy judge to liquidate after rejecting a $4.4 billion takeover bid by the company’s chairman, Eddie Lampert, according to Reuters.

This would mark the end of the iconic retailer, which has survived two world wars and the Great Depression but failed to rebound from several years of sales declines under the control of Lampert, a Goldman Sachs executive turned hedge fund manager.

Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments, said his bid would have kept up to 50,000 of Sears’ workers employed.

When Sears filed for bankruptcy in mid-October, it had 687 stores and about 68,000 workers.

Sears and ESL Investments did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read more: Inside Sears’ death spiral: How an iconic American brand has been driven to the edge of bankruptcy

Sears’ sales tumbled from $53 billion in 2006 to less than $17 billion in 2017.

Lampert has blamed the company’s decline on the media, shifts in consumer spending, and the rise of e-commerce, among other reasons.

For years, he has kept the ailing retailer afloat through billions of dollars in loans from ESL, the selling off of valuable real estate, and the slow dismantling of Sears’ exclusivity over some big American brands.

Some stores have suffered severe decay, such as crumbling walls, cracked floors, collapsing ceilings, and a lack of working toilets for weeks on end, according to store visits and interviews with Sears employees over the past two years.

Critics have blasted Lampert for not investing more in stores, but he has defended his strategy.

“I was criticized for not investing enough in the stores,” Lampert said in 2013. “My point of view is we couldn’t invest in everything.”