Business & Real Estate

Citrus Heights Kmart to close mid-April

A Kmart store in Citrus Heights will close in mid-April, part of what appears to be a new round of nationwide store closures by Kmart parent Sears Holdings Corp.

In an email response to questions, Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said Wednesday that the Kmart at 8501 Auburn Blvd. will begin a liquidation sale on Jan. 24.

The store has 86 employees, most of whom are part-time, hourly workers, he said.

Riefs said eligible workers will receive severance and can apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores.

He called the store closures part of “a series of actions we’re taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base and accelerate the transformation of our business model.”

The Citrus Heights store is one of four known Kmart closures in California, the others being in Anaheim, Chula Vista and San Mateo.

Sears steadfastly declined to confirm how many Kmart stores will close nationwide, but various media organizations were reporting Kmart closings in states including Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and Hawaii. Some of those closures likewise included commencement of liquidation sales on Jan. 24.

The Hawaii closure targets the state’s first Kmart store that opened in Honolulu in 1992. That store has 141 employees, according to media reports.

Several retail analysts speculated that this round of store closures involves “dozens” of Kmart stores.

“I can’t say that I’m surprised,” said Peter Schaub, a New York-based marketing and branding expert. “The holiday rush has wrapped up, and I’m sure they’ve long had a list of stores that were underperforming in their estimation.”

Founded in 1962, Kmart has struggled in a retail environment that has been profoundly altered over the past generation by the expansion of Wal-Mart and the racehorse growth of online players such as Amazon.com.

In 2002, Kmart closed more than 250 stores in 40 states and Puerto Rico, cutting 20,000 positions, as part of a bankruptcy restructuring. That round included closure of its store at 6100 Mack Road in Sacramento.

Kmart, which for years was headquartered in Troy, Mich., purchased Sears for $11 billion in 2005, forming a new corporation under the name Sears Holdings Corp., operating out of Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Since then, more brick-and-mortar Kmart store closings have followed, including rounds in 2011 and 2014, as Sears Holdings has struggled to compete amid a string of disappointing quarterly financial reports.

In his email, Riefs said Kmart customers with layaway contracts have a couple options: They can pay off the contract early or transfer their contract to a neighboring store or online. The latter involves canceling the contract and re-creating it. In-store associates are available to help with that, he said.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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