Retail

Sears Announces Closures, JCP Says It’s ‘Going After’ Sears’ Appliances Business

It’s been a doubly rough week for Sears.

The struggling chain announced even more brick-and-mortar store closures are coming — this time to 103 Kmart and Sears locations.

Once the largest retailer in the U.S., Sears has cut its number of stores in half over the last several years. The last 12 months have been particularly brutal: Mounting debt and 24 straight quarters of losses have troubled efforts to stay afloat.

As of the end of October, Sears operated around 1,104 stores — about half of the 2,019 stores it possessed in 2012. This latest round of closures comes on top of the 63 stores Sears is closing this month and the 330 stores it shut down in 2017.

And, as they say, the hits just keep on coming: JCPenney CEO Marvin Ellison noted in an interview with Fortune this week that part of his also-struggling (but less struggling) department store chain’s comeback is predicated on yet more suffering for Sears.

“We’re going after Sears, and we’re going after market share that we think is going to be available not only now but as they continue to contract,” Ellison said.

JCPenney started selling home appliances two years ago after a 30-year hiatus. The retailer has managed to use that — and some other innovations, like Sephora mini-stores — to help the firm to a better-than-expected 3.4 percent growth rate during the holiday season in 2017.

Ellison has noted that Sears’ recent troubles have meant that JCPenney needs to be ready to conquer the market. The retailer added showrooms for its mattresses at some 500 stores and expanded its home goods category in an attempt to limit its exposure to the flagging apparel space.

“Our appliance initiative, our furniture, our mattress is a way to plant a flag now in the expectation we’ll be able to gain more share in the near future,” Ellison stated.

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