How did Sears get close to liquidation

US department store icon Sears is threatened with extinction

Dusseldorf - According to insiders, the traditional US department store Sears may still be about to finally end. After talks on a billion-dollar takeover offer failed to reach an agreement, the 126-year-old traditional company wanted to ask a New York bankruptcy judge whether the company should resume liquidation, said several people familiar with the process on Tuesday. Sears would be the most prominent retailer in the US to date, slipping into bankruptcy due to the bitter price war in the industry and growing competition from online retailers.

The billionaire Eddie Lampert - at the same time the largest shareholder and creditor - had recently announced that he was ready to take about $ 4.4 billion for Sears in hand. His plan envisages keeping around 425 of the shops and thus saving the jobs of around 50,000 of the 68,000 employees. But no agreement was reached with the Sears management, the insiders said. Now the fate of the chain is in the hands of bankruptcy judge Robert Drain. He could give Lampert more time to work out further details of his offer, said the insiders - or agree to further liquidation. Spokesmen for Sears and Lampert initially did not want to comment.

The group was founded in the late 1880s and for a long time dominated the department store industry in the USA with its order catalog. In the following decades, discounters such as Walmart and Target hit the retail giant more and more. In addition, there was the up-and-coming online trade through competitors such as Amazon. In April 2007, Sears shares had hit a record high of $ 119. But things have been going downhill since then. Sales have stagnated since 2008, and Sears has only posted losses for the past seven years. The stock crashed, last costing less than a dollar. In October the group filed for bankruptcy. (APA, red, 8.1.2018)