Ex-CEO bids on New Castle Kmart, Bazetta Distribution Center - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Ex-CEO bids on New Castle Kmart, Bazetta Distribution Center

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The Kmart Distribution Center in Bazetta Township and the New Castle Kmart store are included in a $4.6 billion bid by a hedge fund run by former Sears Holding Chairman Edward Lampert to rescue what remains of the retailer from bankruptcy.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lampert’s ESL Investments lists 500 Sears and Kmart stores as well as Sears’ headquarters and more than 120 distribution centers that he hopes to operate under a new company.

Included on that list are the Kmart Store on Ellwood Road in New Castle, and the Kmart Distribution Center on Perkins Jones Road in Bazetta Township.

As part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in October, Sears named the New Castle Kmart as among 500 still profitable stores that it hoped to sell to a new owner.

The 59 members of UAW Local 1112 remaining at the Bazetta Distribution Center were notified in November through a so-called WARN notice that Sears Holdings planned to close the facility.

Companies planning mass layoffs are required to issue such notices under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

There have been instances where workers who received WARN notices kept their jobs after their companies were purchased by a new owner.  But union shop chairman at the Bazetta distribution Center, Doug Hofmeister told 21 News that as of Friday morning he had heard nothing about Lampert’s bid to buy select assets belonging to the bankrupt retailer.

Hofmeister added that he is prohibited from commenting further due to a confidentiality agreement with his employer.

Among the 500 Sears and Kmart stores included in Lampert’s bid, 18 are in Ohio and 34 are in Pennsylvania.

The New Castle Kmart and Bazetta Distribution Center are the only Sears facilities in the Valley that are included in the bid.

When Sears filed bankruptcy, it announced the closure of the Sears in the Eastwood Mall and the East Liverpool Kmart by the end of the year.

The Sears at the Southern Park Mall in Boardman closed this summer. The Shenango Valley Mall Sears closed in 2017.

Sears Holdings also closed Kmart stores in Niles, Austintown, and Hermitage this year.

None of those stores are included in Lampert's bid.

In his SEC filing, Lampert says the newly-formed Newco company would offer ongoing employment to approximately 50,000 employees around the country and reinstate a severance program that was in place before the bankruptcy.

“Sears is an iconic fixture in American retail and we continue to believe in the company’s immense potential to evolve and operate profitably as a going concern with a new capitalization and organizational structure,” writes Lampert.  “We believe that our strategy will enable Sears to prosper in an integrated consumer and retail landscape and view a going concern transaction as essential to providing optimal value to creditors and shareholders.”

Lampert says Newco would continue to honor warranties and gift cards.

The deal is contingent on the ability to acquire all the assets sought in the bid.

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