Sears, once the largest United States retailer, filed for bankruptcy protection early Monday. The company’s bankruptcy comes years after staying buoyant through financial challenges and replying on CEO Eddie Lampert’s own money. Lampert served as CEO for the past five years, however he will be stepping down from that title, effective immediately, but will remain chairman. The 125-year-old retailer said on Monday it is appointing Mohsin Meghji, managing partner of M-III Partners, as its chief restructuring officer.
By the end of the year, Sears plans to lose 142 stores and expects to begin liquidation sales shortly. The company’s filing comes more than a decade after Lampert combined Sears and Kmart, in hopes that the two struggling retailers would create an advanced competitor.
Lampert, who has a controlling ownership stake in Sears, holds nearly 31 percent of its shares outstanding, according to FactSet, while his hedge fund ESL Investments owns about 19 percent. Although the company filed for bankruptcy, Lampert is continuing to invest in Sears. On Monday, the retailer said ESL is negotiating a $300 million debtor-in-possession loan to support it through its bankruptcy, as well as an additional $300 million it secured from investment banks.
“ESL invested time and money in Sears because we believe the company has a future,” ESL and Lampert said in a statement Monday. He also expressed much regret that he couldn’t gather the necessary parties to agree for his last efforts to avoid bankruptcy.