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Kmart to close Waikele store and 63 others

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Sears Holdings Corp. will close an additional 64 Kmart stores, according to a person familiar with the matter, a sign the chain is stepping up efforts to shutter underperforming locations.

The Kmart store closings were previously reported by Business Insider (which said Kmart’s Waikele store on Oahu is among those to be closed).

The stores will be shut down by mid-December, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the move hasn’t yet been announced. The store closings come in addition to a push earlier this year to eliminate 68 Kmarts and 10 Sears stores. The company had 941 Kmart locations as of January, so the two rounds would winnow the chain by about 14 percent.

Sears, which merged with Kmart more than a decade ago, has struggled to maintain sales at the discount chain. The overall company has lost more than $9 billion in recent years, hurt by slowing mall traffic and a shift away from department stores.

Edward Lampert, the hedge fund manager who serves as Sears’s chief executive officer and top investor, has been coping with the red ink by shrinking operations and unloading assets. The company also spun off some properties into a real estate investment trust last year, generating about $2.7 billion.

Still, the company continues to burn cash. Sears lost $395 million in the most recently reported quarter, which ended July 30. Lampert’s firm, ESL Investments Inc., agreed to lend Sears $300 million last month to help keep the chain going.

Sears fell 2.7 percent to $11.79 as of 3:46 p.m. in New York on Monday. The shares had already declined 41 percent this year through the end of last week.

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