Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert Makes 2 Offers for Bankrupt Retailer
Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert has offered two options to try to keep the company afloat, a $4.4 billion plan that would save 425 locations, and a less-ambitious proposal that would keep at least 250 of the little under 700 stores the retailer had when it filed for bankruptcy in October. The primary bid, made through an affiliate of Lampert's hedge fund ESL investments, Transform Holdco, would also save all of Sears’ business units, according to an outline of the plan filed with the SEC on Wednesday. Lampert’s smaller bid would buy a few other pieces of Sears, while the rest of the company would likely be liquidated. Lampert is competing against a number of liquidators and other investors who want to buy Sears piecemeal — a smaller number of stores or one or two business units, like its home services division. All bidders will compete in an auction that’s scheduled for Jan. 14.
Total Retail's Take: With the fate of Sears hanging in the balance, Lampert is steadfast in his desire to keep the iconic retailer operational — at least in some capacity. At this point, the scaled-down 250-store plan appears to be the more likely outcome of the two — that is if Sears isn't sold to a liquidator that ultimately closes the business. And even if Lampert's bid is chosen, there's no guarantee that the retailer can be saved long term. The company has to find a way to adapt its business to better compete with the likes of Amazon.com, Walmart, and Target, which have all taken market share from Sears, both online and offline.