Sears Closing Another 66 Stores; Joe's Crab Shack Files For Bankruptcy

Here's another example of when cornered hacks blame "fake news" or in this case, the "irresponsible media" for their gross incompetence, only to prove the media very much responsible and unfake.

One month ago, Sears CEO Eddie Lampert blasted the media for "unfairly singling out" the company over the past decade and blamed "irresponsible" coverage for the retailer's woes. Sears, once the largest U.S. retailer, recently hit rock bottom and continued to dug when it warned investors in March there was a chance it may not survive after years of losses and declining sales. Still, that very warning did not prevent Lampert from lashing out at those who have - correctly - been warning that his company bankruptcy is just a matter of time, and back in May he kicked off the company's annual shareholders' meeting at the company's HQ with a 12 page slideshow of headlines about the company's financial distress, dating back to 2008 (Lampert is known for his peculiarities, collecting morbid headlines about his biggest asset was not known to be among them).

"You'd think it was from a month ago, but it's literally been going on for a decade," Lampert told the handful of furious Sears shareholders in attendance who have seen the value of their stock wiped out over the years.

There were other fireworks during the meeting, like for example when Lampert compared Sears - which hasn't posted a profit in six years - to Amazon's early unprofitable growth. He predicted people will look back and wonder how they missed the Sears' turnaround. The audience was not amused, and six shareholders questioned Lampert, including one asked if Lampert was paranoid and in denial about the company's losses.

Confirming the former, Lampert denied saying there were "behind-the-scenes" counterparties trying to take advantage of the company's situation and that he was trying to adapt and preserve as many jobs as possible. "That's not about denial; that's about caring."

There was little else of substance discussed, with the bulk of Lampert's 90-minute appearance focused on the negative news coverage, which - just like Hillary Clinton - he said had been "deliberately unfair."

"It's irresponsible and it's been irresponsible for too damn long. We're just looking for a fair chance," Lampert said of the media. "Excuse my rant but a lot of what we're doing deserves a chance to see the light of day."

Less than a month later, Sears quietly proceeded to close another 66 stores in Lampert's drive to prove that he is neither paranoid not in denial, but merely a "caring" individual with a penchant for blaming the media for all his problems. Also, the company is burning through millions in cash, so it really had no other choice. The closures will include 49 Kmart stores and 17 Sears stores, with most shut by September according to USA today. The new closures are in addition to the 180 shutdowns Sears announced earlier this year.

Last month, roughly around the time Lampert was bashing "fake news" for the disintegration of Sears, the near-defunct retailer, in its latest scramble to preserve cash announced that it would delay repaying much of a $500 million loan; instead subs of Sears Holdings were granted a forebearance allowing them to repay only $100 million of the loan in July, the initial maturity date of the total debt. The remaining $400 million is not scheduled to come due until January of 2018, with Sears having an option - which it will exercise - of pushing the maturity to July of next year. The creditors will likely see at most pennies on the dollar.

* * *

Elsewhere, as had been largely anticipated, the operator of the Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern & Tap chains, Ignite Restaurant Group, was finally extinguished when the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, hoping to sell itself to an affiliate of Kelly Investment Group. The company, which had seen a steep drop in sales in recent years, listed total debts as of April 30 of  $197.3 million on $153.4 million in assets. Of course, the rats left the sinking ship long ago, with CEO Robert S. Merritt resigning in April, when he was replaced with turnaround firm Alvarez & Marsal.

Ignite operates, or rather operated, 137 Joe’s and Brick House restaurants in 32 states, with “large numbers” in Texas, Florida and California, plus - of all places - three franchises in the United Arab Emirates. It employs 8,400 people, including 5,500 part-time workers. The first Joe’s opened in Houston in 1991.

Fear not though bland seafood fans: the brand will continue to exist upon emergency from bankruptcy: Ignite has lined up Kelly affiliate KRG Acquisitions as a “stalking horse” to open bidding in a court-supervised auction. KRG is willing to pay $50 million and assume liabilities. One thing that will not be coming back, however, is a substantial number of employees, many of whom who will be "synergized" and "restructured" away.


LMNetwork Villain nmewn Wed, 06/07/2017 - 02:29 Permalink

LOL!They have a location on River St in Savannah, GAAlways wondered how they managed to stay in business in competition with other fine southern institutions in the area.Maybe they they play the realty and break even in the meantime. Never stepped foot into their chain to evaluate whether it was quality, but have a feeling that other local business in the area would be capable of outdoing them with ease.

In reply to by nmewn

Aubiekong Tue, 06/06/2017 - 22:05 Permalink

Sears is dead.  Last time I went to a sears over 10 years ago it looked like a truck pulled up and unloaded random junk into the store and then they opened the doors all within 30 minutes.  You couldn't tell if it was a real store or a flee market...

Lucretius nmewn Wed, 06/07/2017 - 11:00 Permalink

Sorry Nmewn, the ONLY thing good about crapman tools WAS it's warranty! Monkey Wards back in the day had much better tools, Power Craft, still have some larger wrenches! I made my living for 40 yrs swinging wrenches. Snappy is ridiculously priced but well made and comfortable to the hands, it makes a difference when you do it all day every day. I bought most of my snappy used, off the trucks, same warranty and much cheaper. The set of 3/8 drive shallow chrome fractional sockets I bought (new) in the early 80's were $33.00, now over $100.00! Craftsman wrenches AND ratchets are very uncomfortable and rough on the hands. Fine for the happy home owner, not for the professional.You boys (and ladies) may know about the markets and finance, I know how stuff works, and how to keep it working.

In reply to by nmewn

Flatchestynerdette Bigly Tue, 06/06/2017 - 23:16 Permalink

"Where will we be able to buy kenmore appliances?"Home Depot, Lowes, and family run chains in each city. Aubiekong is right. Sears doesn't know what it is anymore. Its not Walmart, Target, Macy's & nor Best Buy so why go in it?Really - the demise of Sears was when they stopped sending the catalog. It made people dream of what they could get with their next paycheck. Once that catalog was gone Sears had no mechanism to draw people in and the internet wasn't up yet to take over the catalog's place. Stupidest move in marketing.

In reply to by Bigly

quartshort Flatchestynerdette Tue, 06/06/2017 - 23:30 Permalink

That was part one. Then in the mid 90's I noticed the prices were jacked up beyond what all competitors offered. I thought, "How the hell are they doing it?"Then I asked a salesguy...A: They were offering (usurious) credit to anyone, and their model was to sell to those people without cash but had to have that shiny turd, today. Then they made a killing on the interest, too. Looks like that fools errand caught up to them.

In reply to by Flatchestynerdette

GunnerySgtHartman Flatchestynerdette Tue, 06/06/2017 - 23:37 Permalink

Its not Walmart, Target, Macy's & nor Best Buy so why go in it?Moment of confession here ... I bought a water softener at Sears a few months ago.  One of my neighbors has had really good service out of them, 15+ years out of each unit, so I decided to give one a shot.  I don't know who makes them, but the Sears softeners seem to be a lot better than the junk sold at Lowe's and HD (speaking from experience on Lowe's and HD).  The store was a ghost town when I was in there buying it.That being said, water softeners will not save Sears from bankruptcy, haha.

In reply to by Flatchestynerdette

nmewn GunnerySgtHartman Wed, 06/07/2017 - 05:57 Permalink

Same thing with a battery charger I bought.I had one of those Sears models, the one with the two wheels ,so you could roll it around. Had that thing for I dunno, 20yrs maybe, it sat out in the ag barn with the mowers & tractor exposed to the cold, heat, blowing rain, been dropped and flipped over during that 20yrs...all it did was work until it didn't. So it finally died and I decided to go to see what they had at Lowes and got a digital Schumacher.Now there is a genuine POS, being as how its digital (instead of gauges & needles) you can't see what the readings/output is in the daytime unless you cup your hands over the screen to knock down the suns glare, apparently they want you to use it between dusk & dawn and it lasted exactly through one charge, now its dead as a wedge...a hundred and sumpin bucks.This is the way I figure this will go down, I'll be taking that junk pile back to Lowes and plopping it down on the return desk where I'll argue with the lady peering over the top of her glasses at me about the disappearing ink on their receipt, that she can't read, then she will ask about the original box and I'll start yelling about how nobody keeps original packaging and what planet do they think they're on?!...creating a scene where she "push's the panic button" and some sweaty kid from the Garden Center comes easing up behind me along with the old guy from Hardware who thinks everyone under the age of 60 looks like Hippy Mooozlim's (even the sweaty Garden Center kid)...before she finally give me my money back to get me outta there and I go back to Sears like I should have done in the first place and get another one of theirs. Hey, I gotta get my entertainment somehow ;-)

In reply to by GunnerySgtHartman

NoWayJose Bigly Tue, 06/06/2017 - 22:49 Permalink

I own plenty of Kenmores and several Craftsmen yard machines. Had a problem with a dishwasher and called for service. Sears doesn't do that anymore unless you sign up for extended warranty. Referred me to a contracted outfit but they told me they don't provide service in my area.

I was a loyal Kenmore buyer because I used to be able to get service anywhere in the country. Will I buy another Kenmore ever again?? Stupid Sears!

In reply to by Bigly

Abbie Normal Bigly Wed, 06/07/2017 - 21:48 Permalink

Kenmore used to be made by Whirlpool exclusively for Sears.  In more recent years, some Kenmore appliances are made by LG, Samsung and other overseas suppliers.  If you can't buy Kenmore anymore, then buy Whirlpool, Frigidaire, Maytag, Amana, Magic Chef, etc.  They all come out of the same Camco factory these days.

In reply to by Bigly

techpriest Aubiekong Tue, 06/06/2017 - 22:26 Permalink

I just went into a Sears the other day, and you're right, it really does look like a Goodwill with everything haphazardly thrown onto shelves. Even the "decorations" (think sign brands) were mostly printouts of brand logos hung from large posterboards, as if they could pack the whole place up and be gone tomorrow.

It seems to me like the Sears board has no energy or intention to try to come back - the reminds reminds me of a certain church where a particularly evil pastor (there's a special place in Hell for this type) was gladly taking a paycheck from a church with about 20 old people in it, and once the bank account was sufficiently drained, he sold the church building to Muslims. I think the board is just looking to collect checks until the Sears name is gone, and at that point they'll find another face to get their tentacles around.

In reply to by Aubiekong

SixIsNinE techpriest Tue, 06/06/2017 - 23:27 Permalink

look - they threw the Hail Mary years ago -

seriously, do you expect anyone in their right mind to think that the woefully short throw which is already bumping along the sideline 40 yards short of the endzone and has been for 2 years already - to think that a comeback against Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, etc. ? is going to happen?

no - anyone left there is trying to scam their next paychex or endeavor into another paying gig...

sorry Charlie, the fork was stuck in it years ago

it's done.

Sears BlueLight Kmart Special is DONE. Charbroiled Extra Crispy DONE.

In reply to by techpriest

AGuy Aubiekong Wed, 06/07/2017 - 11:44 Permalink

"Sears is dead. Last time I went to a sears over 10 years ago it looked like a truck pulled up and unloaded random junk"

I went to Sears a few weeks ago, and picked up some name brand tools & consumables (DeWalt, Wiha, Bosch). Better prices than online. I presume they were dumping inventory pending a store closure/bankruptcy. The store is now less than half its original size as the partitioned off more than half of the original space to another retailer.

That said, Retailer death is now spreading in my area. It appears that the majority of traffic is going to the big discount retails (Costco, BJs, SAM's). The smaller retail stores & brand name stores are all going belly up. My guess is that we are heading into another 2008/2009 collapse cycle later this year. I have to believe that all these retailers closing jobs is going to have a significant impact on employment. The only real job expansion since 2009 has been in low wage ,retail jobs.

I would imagine that now that Healthcare premiums are going to soar next year in most states that companies will be looking to downsize to offset benefit cost increases. In my state premiums will be increasing by about 50% next year. I am already paying over $500 a mo. for Health Insurance (just for myself - I am single) so I expect next year it will be between $750 and $800 a month. I can't imagine what the cost will be for some one with a family will be paying. I presume many will be forced to drop coverage next year.

In reply to by Aubiekong

Abbie Normal Aubiekong Wed, 06/07/2017 - 21:54 Permalink

You've just described the preferred cooking method for most of those chain restaurants including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Macaroni Grill, etc.  Heck, even some hamburger and custard joints that advertise "always fresh, never frozen beef" get their hamburger from Sysco, which receives it frozen from their own source.

In reply to by Aubiekong