Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Up against a deadline to find its way out of bankruptcy, Sears announced Friday it planned to close 80 more stores in March.
Sears officials told employees it will begin liquidation sales at 43 Sears and 37 Kmart stores in two weeks.
The iconic American retailer and employer of 68,000 people, founded 125 years ago, is seeking a bidder to buy it out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy by a 4 p.m. EST deadline Friday. No bid was made as of 4:45 p.m., Business Insider reported.
Last week, a bankruptcy court allowed Sears Holdings to sell its home improvement service businesses to Service.com for $60 million. The store, once a shopping mall mainstay, has slowly declined in recent years and was slow to respond to the trend in online shopping. It filed for bankruptcy in October with about 700 stores still open, but plans to close 142 unprofitable locations. The closure of another 40 stores was announced in November.
Sears chairman Eddie Lampert proposed to buy out the company as a whole through his hedge fund, ESL Investments, for $4.6 billion. He has propped up the company with funding for several years but has not submitted or lined up a bid, CNBC reported.
If Lampert secures a bid, it would save all of Sears' remaining assets, but some creditors have said they would prefer to liquidate the company. Experts say most of the already-closed stores will likely face demolition because of difficulty in finding new tenants to utilize stores of that size, typically 10,000 square feet or more.