Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) announced plans to sell about 140 additional properties as they continue to struggle with declining sales and losses and prepare for another round of closures. The department store chain made a deal with a U.S. government pension board to regain the right to sell these sores as they expect to use all the proceeds from the sales or financing deals to fund a pension plan. An estimated $407 million will support about 100,000 beneficiaries.
This pension plan will allow Sears to gain more financial flexibility and provides relief from contributions to the pension plans for the next two years. Sears already contributed about $4.5 billion to pension plans since 2005. The company is working to ensure that employees and retirees receive full pension benefits.
Already this year, Sears closed 400 locations and has been facing competition with discounters as well as the rise of Amazon. The company’s stock fell 4.7% to $4.77 and forecasted third quarter net loss between $525 million and $595 million which would be down $748 million from last year. Same store sells also dropped 17%.
“We have fought hard for many years to return unprofitable stores to a competitive position and to preserve jobs,” CEO Eddie Lampert wrote in the blog post. “As a result, we had to absorb corresponding losses in the process. So, it is obvious that we don’t make decisions to close stores lightly.”