U.S. retailer Sears is disposing of 16 retail outlets in an auction that will be conducted online. This comes amidst efforts by the retailer to resurrect its operations following years of declines in sales. The retail outlets will go to the top bidders under a structure which will see Sears lease back the properties thus allowing the retailer to continue operating at the same locations. In some locations the new property owners will be allowed to make alteration to the assets to suit specific purposes. The 16 retail outlets that Sears is selling are located in the states of Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana and Texas.
The online auction will be conducted by real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield on the online platform known as Real Insight Marketplace. The sales process started earlier this year in February and the bids are due by the beginning of next month. According to Sean Hayes, the managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, groups of investors numbering around 200 have shown interest in the properties.
According to Sears Holdings’ communications director, Howard Riefs, the auction process was tied to an agreement that had been previously announced with Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Last month Sears disclosed that it had secured a loan amounting to $440 million that would allow the retailer to meet its pension obligations.
In fiscal 2017 Sears recorded a loss of over $380 million despite reporting an unexpected profit in Q4. During the period the level of same-store sales fell by over 15%. Last year Sears shut down over 400 store locations and there are plans to close an additional 100 locations by the end of this month.
Last store standing in Chicago
One of the stores that Sears is planning to shutter this summer includes its last store in its hometown of Chicago. The store, which is located along Irving Park Road, will shutter in mid-July and a liquidation sale of its merchandise will take place later this month.
“For more than 120 years, Sears has called Illinois home and that is not changing. Although we are disappointed by this last store closure in Chicago, by no means does this change our commitment to our customers and presence to Chicago’s residents,” a statement from Sears said.
Sears has indicated that it will continue to have offices in Chicago. The last Sears store in Chicago was part of the 260 locations that the retailer sold to Seritage Growth Properties, a real estate investor three years.