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"If I am a betting person, which I am, I would say at some point we would be public again," Lampert said to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, in his first interview since a New York bankruptcy judge approved his hedge fund ESL Investment’s $5.2 billion bid to acquire the bankrupt company.
Lampert also revealed that he wants to shrink the remaining Sears and Kmart stores, sell less apparel and hire a new CEO.
“Our goal is to continue to shrink the size of our stores,” he added. “If I had my druthers, I’d rather be bigger than smaller. We still have enough of a critical mass.”
Additionally, he plans to devote more retail space to tools and appliances and focus less on selling apparel. That news comes nearly a week after competitor J.C. Penney announced its decision to ditch selling major appliances and focus on selling apparel.
In a previous statement to FOX Business, ESL said it also plans to open up more smaller stores, similar to one in Illinois that is 62,000 square feet, about one-third its original size.
The Journal said the newly restructured company, which doesn’t have a name yet, will be comprised of 223 Sears stores and 202 Kmart locations, and will include both the Kenmore and DieHard brands.
In 2017, Sears sold its Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million. However, Sears still has a license to sell the products.
What’s more, Lampert said that he would remain as the company’s chairman but is on the hunt for a new CEO to carry out the new plan.
Still, many are questioning Lampert’s plan for Sears’ future.
Matthew Mason, managing director at Conway MacKenzie and former Sears attorney from 2002 and 2005, told FOX Business that while Lampert’s bid is positive news for the 45,000 employees for now, that may be short lived.
“In admitting that 156 stores are weak performers, ESL is almost certainly setting the stage for additional store closures,” Mason said. “The long-term impact is still a major question mark.”
As for the 45,000 Sears and Kmart employees who now get to keep their jobs, many say they have “mixed feelings” about the news.
“I’m relieved and glad that 45,000 people get to keep their jobs, but I’m still angry. My store is still closing, there are still people that don’t have their severance. If anything I’m more resolute than ever to keep fighting,” Gabe Maquire, a seven-year associate at Kmart in North Carolina, whose store is shutting down in March, told FOX Business.