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Sears Holdings Are Smaller

Retailer announces cuts in HQ staff; Kmart to let people go, too

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Sears Holding Corp. (Hoffman Estates, Ill.) has informed local, state and federal officials that at least 500 workers — the minimum threshold for alerting the federal government — would be let go from the headquarters staff of about 4000.

Most of the cuts at Sears’ corporate campus are expected to be made by the end of this week.

The cuts are primarily a result of the March merger of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart Holding Corp. (Troy, Mich.), which formed Sears Holdings, with headquarters staffs in both Hoffman Estates and Troy. Similar reductions are taking place among Kmart’s headquarters staff of 2000. Some of those workers are being given the option of relocating to Hoffman Estates, and only a few hundred jobs are expected to remain after the two headquarters are consolidated and based in Illinois.

Sears, the nation’s third-largest retailer, wants to save $300 million in the wake of the $12.3 billion deal. The changes at headquarters have been taking shape since about a dozen high-level executives departed a few weeks ago. Company spokesman Chris Brathwaite said no jobs are being eliminated at the company’s 3800 stores, which include about 870 Sears department stores, 1100 Sears specialty stores and what remains of the one-time 4600-unit Kmart chain.

“Our new headquarters organization has designed its staff to perform at the best of our combined abilities and to position us for the future,” Brathwaite said. “We believe the steps we’re taking are those necessary to bring us in line with those we compete with in the retail sector.”

Sears’ plans to lay off at least 500 people were disclosed in a filing with federal, state and local officials. If Sears opts to lay off more people, it would file an amended layoff notice with the state, revealing how many more jobs will be cut, a spokesman for the state said Wednesday. “I would be surprised if it’s 1000. That would be upsetting,” said Hoffman Estates mayor William McLeod. “Companies restructure to make the company stronger, but individuals suffer from that.”

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