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Lorain Kmart to close

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LORAIN — The Super Kmart on Leavitt Road will close in September.

The store is one of 68 Kmart stores to close nationwide and one of six in Ohio, according to information provided by Sears Holdings corporate communications. The other Ohio Kmart stores scheduled to close are in Ashtabula, Eaton, Fremont, Lima and Springboro.

The Lorain store opened in 1993, according to a human resources employee, but it isn’t clear how many people work there because corporate didn’t provide the information when asked and human resources wouldn’t discuss the closing.

According to information provided by Sears Holding, 10 Sears stores also will close, including one in Marion.

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said he had heard rumors about a possible closure but never anything official from the company. He called the news disappointing but said it reflects the current economics of retail.

“I hope the company works with those displaced, and I know programs throughout our county will assist as well,” he said.

Sears Holdings announced in February it intended to shutter unprofitable stores. Thursday’s announcement detailing the stores to close came after an evaluation of the company’s portfolio that took into account historical and recent store performance and the timing of lease expirations, according to a press release.

“The decision to close stores is a difficult but necessary step as we take aggressive actions to strengthen our company, fund our transformation and restore Sears Holdings to profitability,” Edward S. Lampert, chairman and chief executive officer of Sears Holdings, said in a prepared statement. “We’re focusing on our best members, our best categories and our best stores as we work to accelerate our transformation.”

Sears Holdings expects the store closures to generate cash from the liquidation of store inventory and from the sale or sublease of real estate. Along with the more than $1.2 billion in debt financing Sears Holdings announced it had raised earlier this month to meet its financial obligations, the company said it believes it has taken important steps toward restoring profitability.

There were no going-out-of-business signs present at the Lorain Super Kmart on Thursday, although small signs on the entrance doors in bold print said the store is no longer accepting layaways.

Employees at the store and the store manager declined to discuss the closing or disclose how many people work there, although one young employee opined that the blame probably lies in more business going to Wal-Mart.

The majority of store closings will occur in July although the Lorain store will close in September.

According to Sears Holdings, eligible employees will receive severance packages or the chance to apply for open positions at other Sears or Kmart stores. Specifics regarding the Lorain’s employees weren’t provided. The closest Kmart locations in Northeast Ohio are in Brunswick and Middleburg Heights.

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