CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Struggling Sears to spin off Lands' End

Fri Dec 6, 2013 10:18am EST
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(Corrects first paragraph to make clear Sears will not raise cash through the spinoff. Corrects headline to remove reference to Lampert seeking cash)

By Maria Ajit Thomas

Dec 6 (Reuters) - Eddie Lampert-controlled Sears Holdings Corp, struggling with mounting operating losses and declining sales, said it would spin off its Lands' End clothing business, adding to the assets the company is shedding to bolster its balance sheet.

The company, operator of Sears department stores and the Kmart discount chain, has been selling or spinning off assets and closing stores for the past few years to try to turn around its business. Sales have been dropping since Lampert combined Sears and Kmart in an $11 billion deal in 2005.

The billionaire hedge fund manager, who took over as chief executive in February, has been criticized for not investing enough in the business, which has earned a reputation for dowdy merchandise and poor service compared to Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp.

"Sears is in a steady state of decline," said Brian Sozzi, chief executive of Belus Capital Advisors. "They're essentially selling their body parts so they stay alive today."

Apart from losing market share to Wal-Mart and Target, Sears is facing increased competition from online retailers.

Sears, whose shares were up 3 percent at $51.29 in early trading, spun off its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores unit in 2011 and its Sears Hometown and Outlet business last year.

In October, the company sold some Canadian real estate assets for $383 million and said it was considering separating Lands' End and its auto center business to raise cash.   Continued...