RACINE — Sears, one of Regency Mall’s anchor stores, will close in January along with the Sears Auto Center.
The store will start its liquidation sale Oct. 25, Howard Riefs, Sears Holdings director of corporate communications stated Thursday by email.
The store opened in early 1982, the mall’s second year, but was under construction when the mall opened in 1981, Mall Manager Curt Pruitt said.
Sears and the auto center have a combined 52 employees, Riefs stated. They will have an opportunity to apply for positions at other Kmart and Sears stores.
“Store closures are part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” Riefs stated.
“These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail — at the store, online and in the home.”
Riefs said “a handful” of other stores across the country will be closed about the same time. The only other Wisconsin store announced for closure is the Kmart in Fort Atkinson.
Pruitt called the upcoming closing of the 89,000-square-foot store and auto center an opportunity.
“We’re seeing this decision as an excellent opportunity to elevate the Sears building into an even more productive use,” he said.
“It’s too early to speculate whether another department store will join the mall or it will be redeveloped for other stores or mixed uses,” Pruitt said.
But he said the leasing department of mall owner CBL & Associates is already talking with other potential candidates for the space.
Sears owns the space, and Pruitt said CBL and the mall will work closely with Sears for whatever transition occurs.
Sears Holdings, which owns both Sears and Kmart stores, lost $930 million in 2012 and $3.1 billion the year before, and the losses have continued.
In August, its latest earnings report, Sears Holdings reported a $194 million net loss in its fiscal second quarter compared with $132 million one year earlier.
Sears Holdings closed 46 full-line Sears stores and 84 Kmart stores in the United States between February 2012 and February 2013.
As of February, there were 15 Sears and 28 Kmart stores in Wisconsin, according to Riefs. He did not have the number of those that have since closed or been slated for closure.