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article imageOp-Ed: Sears Announcement Blurs Tax Deal in Illinois

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By Tim O'Brien     Dec 27, 2011 in Business
It's more than just the closure of Sears that concerns residents and politicians in Illinois, it's the recently passed tax incentive.
It's no longer about how many stores Sears will close, it's where they are located and how many people will be out of work.
Meanwhile, an interesting twist exists for those living in Illinois.
As Sears readies their list of closures, the governor of Illinois and politicians are hoping none of the stores will be in Illinois, especially after a tax incentive deal, to keep the Hoffman Estates-based company in the state, was passed and signed.
Many questions have arisen, but the state waits, as do many others.
Gov. Quinn was in Chicago today and answered questions from reporters about the deal. One was leveled at the idea that the tax deal could save stores in Illinois from being closed. "We expect the headquarters to stay here and the jobs to be here, that’s what the agreement is all about," Quinn said, and first reported by the Chicago Sun Times.
That didn't answer the question about those Illinois stores and its employees. The truth is, the deal and the closures are not related. Even Quinn had to admit that. "...as far as the headquarters, where literally thousands of people work, that was what the agreement was about and that’s what we provided the incentive for," Quinn noted.
As the news surfaced as the day progressed it was learned that 100-120 Sears and related entities will be closed. "Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce on-going expenses," said Chief Executive Officer Lou D'Ambrosio in a news release.
Here are more items included in the Sears announcement:
- The company said they expect the store closures to generate $140 to $170 million of cash as the net inventory in these stores is sold.
- Putting the store closure news aside, it was also announced that they will reduce 2012 peak domestic inventory by $300 million from the 2011 level of $10.2 billion.
- Reduce costs by $100-200 million.
"These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members," added Lou D'Ambrosio.
At the end of business today, Sears stock fell 27 percent, Reuters reported.It was also Reuters who turned the attention to hedge fund manager Edward Lampart. The retailer, Reuters noted, has seen sales decline every year since the $11 billion merger of the Sears and Kmart chains in 2005.
One can only look back to that deal and remember that all was not not well then and and did not improve.
Much like those days, too, many who work at the stores were worried about their jobs. The states and cities, which house them, are once again worried about closures as well.
* The list of closures, when announced, will be listed at www.searsmedia.com.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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