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Sunday, November 17 Business

Nearly 100 more Sears, Kmart stores to close after 2019 holidays

Connecticut is dodging another round of Sears and Kmart store closures, with the company having shuttered stores in the past year in Milford.

Sears Holdings is in the process of finalizing a bankruptcy restructuring that with the newest closures will take the combined Sears and Kmart store base to about 180, including Sears department stores in Danbury and Manchester.

Among 96 locations nationally that will turn off the lights by February, the successor company to Sears Holdings is closing a pair of Sears and Kmart stores each in Massachusetts; and in New York a Sears store in Buffalo and Kmart stores in Bohemia and Sidney.

“We have been ... focusing on our competitive strengths and pruning operations that have struggled due to increased competition and other factors,” the company stated in a disclosure of the newest round of closures. “We will continue to evaluate our Sears and Kmart footprint, consistent with our overall retail and service strategy.”

At Danbury Fair three years ago, Sears ceded its upper level allowing the Macerich-owned mall to lure the European discount retailer Primark for its first Connecticut location.

As it begins its own bankruptcy process, Forever 21 has emptied its own second-level space at Danbury Fair and is holding clearance sales on its remaining inventory on the ground floor. The CEO of Macerich suggested last week that the mall already has lined up a tenant for the space.

Malls nationally have been scrambling to fill the voids left by Sears, with the Connecticut Post mall having yet to name a replacement for a Sears that closed after last year’s holidays at a cost of 70 jobs, while landing Boscov’s to fill a major vacancy after the departure of JCPenney.

At the Paramus Park mall owned by Brookfield Properties, the developer of the SoNo Collection in South Norwalk that recently sold its majority stake in the new mall, the Norwalk-based grocery chain Stew Leonard’s recently opened its first mall-based store in a former Sears anchor pad.

Macerich has converted its own Sears locations to entertainment venues like movie theaters, co-working centers in partnership with Industrious, and even a hospital clinic at a mall in upstate New York.

“We continue to make excellent progress on the repositioning of recaptured Sears locations — construction is underway at four of these locations at which new tenants will open in 2020,” said Tom O’Hern, CEO of Macerich. “We think in the right locations, [co-working] makes sense and it’s very synergistic with other mall uses.”

Includes prior reporting by Jordan Grice and Bethany Bump.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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