It is official! Sears files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Sears, once the largest retailer in the world, is closing hundreds of stores and reportedly planning to file for bankruptcy. Here's how it got there.

Sears’ bankruptcy appears imminent

Meanwhile, Sears workers are nervous about what kind of severance they'll receive if their store closes.

Sears, the venerable chain that once dominated the American retail sector but had been in decline since the advent of the Amazon era, filed for bankruptcy Monday and announced it was closing nearly 150 stores.

The company filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors with the US Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, listing more than US$10 billion in debts and more than US$1 billion in assets.

But it announced it would close 142 unprofitable stores near the end of the year, in addition to the previously announced closure of 46 stores by November. A long series of store closings has left it with under 900 today.

It appears that the end is nigh for embattled retailer Sears.

But the onset of discounters like Walmart created challenges for Sears that have only grown and it faced even more competition from online sellers and appliance retailers like Lowe's and Home Depot.

Talks are continuing in advance of a $134 million debt payment that's coming due for Sears on Monday - a payment that Lampert has reportedly told associates he doesn't plan to make.

Parts of Sears have already been through bankruptcy.

Businessman Eddie Lampert - who serves as the company's chief executive, biggest investor, landlord and significant creditor - had attempted to restructure the firm's debt to avoid bankruptcy.

Sears and Kmart merged to form Sears Holdings in 2005 when they had 3,500 U.S. stores between them.

A spokesman for Lampert declined to comment on details of the bankruptcy financing, while a Sears spokesman and spokespeople for the banks didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. In its last fiscal year, it generated $16.7 billion in sales, down from more than $50 billion in 2008.

"There was a time when Sears was the Amazon of its day".

But previous year while other traditional retailers enjoyed a strong holiday sales, Sears and Kmart both reported sharp drops in sales. It's last profitable year was 2010, and Lampert has since stripped off and sold much of its land holdings and iconic brands like Craftsman.

As the company has struggled to turn a profit, it has made numerous moves to improve its finances, shuttering stores, around 300 this year alone, while securing more and more financial lifelines.

Sears said it has received a $300 million financing package to fund its operations during the bankruptcy proceedings and was negotiating an additional $300 million.

Sears was once the nation's largest retailer and its largest employer.

With a history that stretches back to 1886, the company was a pioneer of departmental stores that sold all things to all people and by the mid-twentieth century had built a vast empire that stretched across North America. He soon partnered with watch repairman Alvah Roebuck. Sears opened its first store in 1925 in Chicago, and the Sears Tower in that city, now known as the Willis Tower, was the world's tallest building when it opened in 1973. Sears was widely considered to be an early innovator of the shopping landscape. That's down from 317,000 United States employees in early 2006, soon after the merger.

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