Sears’s bankruptcy filing was supposed to give the troubled retailer a fresh start. But a year later, the chain is still struggling with many of the same problems it faced before it sought court protection. From a report: Roughly a quarter of the 425 Sears and Kmart stores that financier Edward Lampert bought out of bankruptcy have closed or are closing, according to people familiar with the situation, a retreat the chains haven’t fully disclosed. The shelves at some remaining locations are bare of crucial products — no lawn mowers in summer or garden supplies in spring, according to shoppers and a former executive. […] The newly created company, Transform Holdco LLC, is on stronger financial footing. It didn’t assume roughly $4 billion in debt and pension obligations owed by the Sears Holdings estate, the shell of the old company that remains in bankruptcy. In April, Transform refinanced $800 million in debt, giving it money to pay vendors and invest in the business.
The stores Mr. Lampert acquired were among the strongest in the fleet. About half of them were profitable at the time of the purchase, according to a person familiar with the situation. About 90 were owned, the rest were leased, according to court documents. But the stores’ performance deteriorated faster than expected, according to one of the people. In August, the company said it would close 21 Sears and five Kmart stores this fall. In addition, nearly 100 stores are slated for closure by year-end, the majority of them Kmart locations, according to people familiar with the situation.