Customers shop for refrigerators at a Sears Holdings Corp. store in Jersey… (Victor J. Blue, Bloomberg )
Sears Holdings Corp. said it plans to close 53 specialty stores in the first half of 2012.
The closures include 43 Sears hometown dealer stores and 10 Sears Hardware stores, the company said. Hometown stores are small hardware stores, usually operated by independent dealers in rural areas. Sears Hardware stores are larger, corporate-owned outposts that carry Craftsman tools, DieHard car batteries and a limited selection of Kenmore appliances.
The closures follow Sears' plan, announced in late December, to close as many as 120 poor-performing Sears and Kmart stores and a plan, disclosed in February, to close all nine of its Great Indoors stores.
The latest round of store closings follows Sears' decision last month to spin off its hometown dealer stores and Sears outlets in a bid to raise cash to shore up its money-losing retail business. Sears said it expects the spinoff to generate $400 million to $500 million.
The company also agreed last month to sell 11 Sears mall stores to General Growth Properties Inc. for $270 million.
As of Jan. 28, Sears operated 1,305 Kmart stores, 867 Sears stores and 1,338 special-format stores, according to its annual report released late Wednesday. The special-format stores included 986 Sears hometown stores, 96 Sears Hardware stores, 116 Sears outlets, 75 Sears Home Appliance showrooms and nine Great Indoors locations.