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Sears: From American Icon to Chapter 11 — Reviewing the Path to Failure for a Storied, Century-Old Retailer

Executive Summary

Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck founded Sears in 1893 and over the next century it grew into an icon of American retailing. On October 15, 2018, Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and emerged out of it in early February 2019. We look at what happened.

  • At the time of filing for bankruptcy, Sears operated around 687 Sears and Kmart
  • Sears had not achieved annual revenue growth since 2005, the year Edward Lampert purchased Sears and merged the embattled retailer with mass merchandiser Kmart.
  • The company’s last reported net profit was in fiscal 2010, when it recorded net income of $133 million.
  • In February 2019, Sears emerged out of bankruptcy when the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved a $5.2 billion bid, made by Lampert, saving the retailer from shutting down.

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