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Sears planning more changes for stores

Sears announced Thursday plans to separate its hometown stores, outlets and some hardware stores, but the move seems to bode little change for the owners and patrons of hometown stores like the one in Brookhaven.

     Thursday’s press releases outlined the company’s plans to spin off hometown stores in addition to a proposed sell-off of 11 Sears mall stores. That comes after the company announced in December plans to close 100 or more Sears stores throughout the country, including the one in McComb. None of the 11 Sears slated to be sold are located in Mississippi.

     Hometown stores are locally owned and operated. When contacted Friday, Sid Sasser, owner of the Brookhaven hometown Sears, said Sears has instructed hometown storeowners to give no press interviews.

     Hometown stores have a smaller selection than full Sears stores. They do not handle clothing, jewelry and the full selection of home electronics.

     In addition to Brookhaven, Sears hometown locations in Mississippi include Brandon, Byram, Magee, Ridgeland, Vicksburg, Yazoo City and Natchez.

     Sears, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., expects to raise from $400 to $500 million by spinning off hometown stores, according to press releases. Selling the 11 outlet stores will bring in $270 million.

     The separation of hometown and outlet stores will occur through a rights offering. A Sears press release estimates the rights offering could come in the latter half of 2012.

     The stores to be sold will continue to operate as Sears into 2013, with the final mall closing dates yet to be determined.

     The company’s recent attempts to slash stores and raise cash comes after revenue at stores open at least a year fell by 5.2 percent in the last eight weeks of the Christmas shopping season, according to press releases and AP reports.

     McComb’s Sears in Edgewood Mall is one of three Sears slated to shut down in Mississippi. The other two are located in Leigh Mall in Columbus and in the Jackson Metrocenter.