Losses mount at US department store Sears as it takes another cash injection

Billy Bambrough
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The former Sears tower in Chicago was renamed the Willis Tower in 2009 (Source: Getty)

US department store Sears has posted another loss for its latest quarter, setting it on the way to its seventh consecutive year in the red.

To make matters worse Sears has had to again dip into its chief executive’s hedge fund for a cash injection, helping itself to $300m (£227.4m) in debt financing from ESL Investments.

Adding to the gloom, chief financial officer Rob Schriesheim has teed up another round of store closures.

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In an earnings call, he said the company's leases on hundreds of stores will soon expire, suggesting they could be shuttered if required.

Shares in the company fell by over six per cent in New York, adding to the near 50 per cent decline over the past 12 months.

Sears has been one of the hardest hit US brick-and-mortar retailers as consumers abandon large, out of town stores for online and city centre shopping.

Earlier this month rival US department store chain Macy’s announced it would shut around 100 stores – some 15 per cent of its total – as it battles falling foot traffic.

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The stores slated to be closed represent around four per cent of its declining revenue.

Macy’s shares climbed on the news, though are down more than 40 per cent over the past 12 months.

Edward Lampert, Sears' and ESL Investments' chief executive, said:

We continue to face a challenging competitive environment and while we continue to focus on our overall profitability, including managing expenses, we reported a net loss for the second quarter. We are encouraged by the year-over-year improvement ... and feel we are making progress in our transformation as we remain focused on our best stores, our best members and our best categories to drive our business and enhance the member experience.

For its latest quarter Sears reported a loss of $395m, or $3.70 a share, compared with the year earlier’s profit of $208m.

A drop in same-store sales and a decline in the number of stores in operation resulted in a revenue fall of eight per cent to $5.7bn.

Gross margin fell to 22.2 per cent in the quarter from 23.1 per cent a year earlier, while costs and expenses fell three per cent.

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