U.S. Retailer Sears Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Once mighty retailer Sears (NASDAQ: SHLD) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection citing massive debt and mounting losses.

Sears now has fewer than 900 stores, down from 1,000 at the end of 2017. The number of stores peaked in 2012 at 4,000, including its Sears Canada division that was later spun off. Sears Canada closed its stores earlier this year.

Sears had started out in the U.S. as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s, but has failed to innovate and incurred big losses in recent years. The operator of Sears and Kmart stores joins a growing list of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy, including Payless ShoeSource, Toys R Us and Bon-Ton Stores Inc.

Sears bankruptcy filing comes ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season, and after rescue efforts engineered by its Chief Executive Eddie Lampert have kept it outside of bankruptcy court until now.

Lampert has been pushing for a debt restructuring and offering to buy some of Sears' key assets, such as the Kenmore brand, through his hedge fund as a $134-million U.S. debt repayment comes due on Monday. Lampert personally owns 31% of the company's shares.

Sears has accumulated $6.26 billion in losses, excluding one-time events, since its last annual profit in 2010. The company has had 11 years of straight annual drops in revenue. In its last fiscal year, it generated $16.7 billion in sales, down from more than $50 billion in 2008.

Sears' stock has fallen from $6 over the past year to below the minimum $1 level that NASDAQ listed stocks are required to trade in order to remain on the stock exchange.