(WTTW News)

(CNN) – Sears to close its last department store in Illinois in the fall; the state in which its first retail store opened in 1925.

The Sears department store at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb, will close on November 14.

Transformco, which acquired Sears Holdings after the company filed for bankruptcy in 2018, has confirmed its intention to redevelop the property.

“We intend to reinvigorate and maximize real estate value while enhancing the consumer experience with popular retailers that match the regional appeal of Woodfield Mall,” said Scott Carr, president of the real estate for Transformco.

Transformco said the company is focused on growth sears.com and Sears Home Services.

“This is part of the company’s strategy to unlock real estate value and pursue the highest and best use for the benefit of the local community,” said Larry Costello, director of public relations for Transformco in a statement.

Sears will continue to be present in Illinois. There are 11 Sears Hometown stores in the state, operating primarily in small towns through independent dealers or franchisees of Transformco subsidiaries.

Stores typically measure between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet – much smaller than Sears department stores, which were each over 100,000 square feet – and primarily sell durable goods and appliances. Transformco’s strategy is to operate more stores like Hometown Sears.

There are currently 300 Sears and Kmart stores still open in the United States, up from nearly 700 in October 2018, when Sears declared bankruptcy. At its peak, the company operated more than 3,000 stores.

Once the country’s predominant retailer and largest employer, Sears opened its first retail store in 1925 in Chicago and firm its last location there in 2018.

Covid has further decimated the entire department store industry, forcing high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus and budget department stores like JCPenney out of business. Sears Holdings emerged from bankruptcy in February 2019. A second Chapter 11 filing for the company could be the end for Sears and Kmart.

“I was surprised that it hasn’t already been liquidated,” said Reshmi Basu, analyst at Debtwire and retail bankruptcy expert. “History shows a [second bankruptcy] for a retailer almost always ends up in liquidation.

Criticism of former Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert argued he was more interested in the company’s real estate than in its retail operations. Lampert, a hedge fund operator with expertise in real estate, has redeveloped many old Sears locations. After stepping down as CEO, Lampert was finally continued by Sears Holdings for allegedly stripping the company’s assets as it slipped into bankruptcy.

The-CNN-Wire
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