Sears Holdings Corp. said its Oak Brook store is among a dozen stores nationwide set to be reduced by half with their auto centers eliminated or changed into just appliance stores by 2018.
The Sears store and its Sears Auto Center in Oakbrook Center, along with 11 others, were sold to the GGP-Seritage Growth Partners Joint Venture last year. Hoffman Estates-based Sears leases the store from the joint venture, a partnership with Chicago-based General Growth Properties, said Sears spokesman Howard Riefs.
"After the footprint is changed, the Sears store will remain on the entire lower level and continue to serve our (customers) by operating in a smaller, more efficient space that will include home appliances, mattresses, household goods, sporting goods, tools and a targeted assortment of apparel," Riefs said. He could not say what other departments, such as the Land's End shop, would be eliminated.
Until then, the store and auto center will continue to remain open and serve customers, including the crucial holiday shopping season.
In April 2015, Sears and General Growth Properties announced their joint venture involving about a dozen Sears Holdings properties located at General Growth malls. Besides Oak Brook, the others undergoing similar changes are in Bakersfield, California; Pembroke Pines, Florida; Natick, Massachusetts; Columbia, Maryland; Minnetonka, Minnesota; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Staten Island, New York; Norman, Oklahoma; and Frisco, Texas.
As part of the deal, General Growth contributed an unknown amount of money to the joint venture. The joint venture then leased back the existing Sears stores. The transaction was designed to allow Sears to get money for its properties and provide an opportunity for the joint venture to redevelopment and re-lease up to 50 percent of each property.
General Growth spokesman Kevin Berry said the company could not reveal yet what will be done with the space at the affected Sears stores.
Meanwhile, Sears reached an agreement with the joint venture where two other Sears stores and their adjacent Sears Auto Center will be closed "in the near future" and changed into appliance-only stores.
Those stores are in Lynnwood, Washington; and Paramus, New Jersey. They will be replaced with Sears' new appliance model that debuted in Fort Collins, Colorado, in June.
The retailer continues to re-evaluate its stores, properties and workforce as it struggles to stay afloat.
Earlier this year, Sears said it was closing 68 Kmart and 10 Sears stores, although none were in the Chicago suburban area. After that, Sears Holdings was expected to have about 1,500 stores left. It's been part of an ongoing mission to return to profitability.