Sears to close 6 stores in Illinois after all

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — Sears Holdings Corp. has announced plans to close six stores in Illinois, two months after the company got a hefty tax credit for dropping a threat to move its headquarters out of state.

The plans follow news in December that the company would close at least 100 to 120 stores to raise cash after a disastrous holiday season. No Illinois stores were on that initial list, but the company held out the possibility that more outlets would be added.

The planned closures include a Sears in Alton, a Sears Grand/Essentials in McHenry, Kmarts in Oak Lawn, Zion and Peru, and a The Great Indoors store in Lombard. The company said a typical store employs between 40 and 80 people.

The Illinois Legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn approved a $150 million tax credit for the Hoffman Estates-based retailer in December after the company threatened to move its headquarters. Less than two weeks later, the company announced its plans to close up to 120 Sears and Kmart stores.

Sears laid off 100 workers at its headquarters outside of Chicago earlier this month, but a spokesman said at the time the layoffs didn't violate the terms for the tax credit. The cuts leave about 6,100 people working at the Hoffman Estates site. The deal with the state requires Sears to keep at least 4,250 jobs there.

Spokesman Chris Brathwaite said company officials discussed the details of the latest closures with Quinn's staff.

"These decisions were driven in part by our results in the fourth quarter, which didn't conclude until after our incentive deal was reached," he said.

As part of a plan to turnaround the company, Sears said Thursday it will spin off of its smaller Hometown and Outlet stores as well as some hardware stores in a deal expected to raise $400 million to $500 million. In a separate deal, Sears will sell 11 stores, including one in Champaign, to the real estate company General Growth Properties for $270 million.

Sears, led by billionaire investor Edward Lampert, also said it plans to cut inventory by $580 million.

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