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Indiana included on latest Kmart store-closure list

September 20, 2016

Sears Holdings Corp. will close an additional 64 Kmart stores, including three in Indiana, according to a person familiar with the matter—a sign the chain is stepping up efforts to shut down underperforming locations.

The stores will close by mid-December, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the move hasn’t yet been announced. The store closings come in addition to a push earlier this year to eliminate 68 Kmarts and 10 Sears stores. The company had 941 Kmart locations as of January, so the two rounds would winnow the chain by about 14 percent.

Business Insider said the Indiana stores were in Lafayette, Merrillville, Elkhart. Liquidation sales are expected to begin Thursday.

Kmart will have about 17 stores left in Indiana after the closures, including two in Indianapolis, one in Brownsburg and one in Anderson.

Earlier this year, Sears closed a Kmart in Bloomington and a Kmart in New Albany.

Sears, which merged with Kmart more than a decade ago, has struggled to maintain sales at the discount chain. The overall company has lost more than $9 billion in recent years, hurt by slowing mall traffic and a shift away from department stores.

Edward Lampert, the hedge fund manager who serves as Sears’s CEO and top investor, has been coping with the red ink by shrinking operations and unloading assets. The company also spun off some properties into a real estate investment trust last year, generating about $2.7 billion.

Still, the company continues to burn cash. Sears lost $395 million in the most recently reported quarter, which ended July 30. Lampert’s firm, ESL Investments Inc., agreed to lend Sears $300 million last month to help keep the chain going.

Sears Holdings operates more than 60 stores in Indiana carrying the Sears name, including 14 department stores, more than 25 Sears Hometown Stores, five Sears Hardware stores and more than a dozen Sears Auto Centers. There are two Sears department stores in the Indianapolis area (Castleton and Greenwood), plus four Hometown stores, three Hardware stores, two Auto Centers and one Appliance Outlet store.

Sears shares were down 7 cents Tuesday, to $11.70 each. The shares had already declined 41 percent this year through the end of last week.

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