It’s fascinating to me that, as of April 1, Sears went from being run like a REIT to being run as a REIT — at least partly. The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company formed a new REIT, Seritage Growth Properties, with the stated intention of raising a cool $2.5 billion by selling and leasing back 254 stores. Sears promptly began moving forward with those plans, and has since announced three separate deals to do just that with Macerich Co. (nine properties); General Growth Properties (12 properties) and Simon Property Group (10 properties). Deals like the ones that have been announced so far are certainly proving that Sears can make money by selling its assets, but the question is, why and to what end? In this week’s Retail Rap, I examine the strategic moves that Sears has already made and what this could mean for the future of the company.
On one hand, these deals have all been done quickly and announced almost simultaneously, which speaks to some level of strategic planning. On the other hand, we have yet to see any public sign that Sears understands and is attempting to address its liabilities as a retailer. What is the long range plan? It seems to me that the missing piece of the puzzle is any sort of statement of a new direction or big-picture strategy designed to turn around the retail portion of the business.
Now to be clear, Sears is still a very viable company in terms of its real estate holdings. That being said, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this installment of Retail Rap because it’s not entirely clear to me whether the decision to sell now isn’t part of a broader real estate strategy, or is at least in part due to the fact that Sears might feel like the time is right. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be watching with interest to see what Sears does next. Is this just the first step in a turnaround effort for this floundering retailer? How are they going to use the money? Is there a surprise in store? It will be interesting to watch and see what unfolds in the months and years ahead.