• Andrea Lillo

Adamson says no more Kmart closings needed

Though Kmart announced last week that it will shutter 18 percent of its store base by early April, the announcement was a surprise to no one. And home textiles manufacturers that supply the discounter have not been watching passively, but have already begun putting contingency plans in place.

"Obviously, it will have an impact" on the home textiles industry, said Susan Ding, analyst, Standard and Poor's, who covers Kmart suppliers WestPoint Stevens and Dan River. Kmart does provide a significant chunk of business, about 10 percent to 15 percent for WestPoint Stevens, and Kmart's home textiles are mostly rooted in the successful Martha Stewart Everyday program. But manufacturers have looked at gaining business elsewhere, whether it's new accounts or expanding existing ones. One key area will be developing new brands and products, she said, especially in a company's strengths, which for Dan River are bed-in-a-bag and juvenile, and the brands at WestPoint Stevens. But there will be a transitional period, she added. In addition, because of the success of Martha Stewart program, even if Kmart didn't make it out of Chapter 11, she felt another retailer would pick it up.

Last week, Kmart, which placed fourth on HTT's Top 40 Retailers for 2001, with $1,826 million in home textiles sales, announced the closing of 226 Kmart discount stores and 60 Kmart SuperCenters for a total of 326 stores and one of its 18 distribution centers, resulting in the loss of 30,000 to 35,000 jobs.

The retailer also received a commitment for up to $2 billion in exit financing from GE Commercial Finance, Fleet Retail Finance Inc. and Bank of America N.A. This credit facility, which will be secured by inventory, would replace the company's current $2 billion debtor-in-possession facility on the effective date of a reorganization plan.

The retailer posted its first profit since its filing, in December, of $349 million on a 5.7 percent decline of comp-store sales. It is also accelerating its timetable to exit Chapter 11 by April 30, and the board approved a five-year business plan last week. The company expected to finalize and file its proposed plan of reorganization and related disclosure statement with the bankruptcy court on or about Jan. 24.

"A lot of people have been speculating about the future of Kmart, and I hope now they realize there is a future," Jim Adamson, chairman and ceo, said during a media conference call. He stressed that "we are done" with store closings.

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HTT Current issue for September 2017

See the September 2017 issue of Home & Textiles Today. In this issue, we look at the Attack of the Killer Third Tier: Monster off-pricers are climbing to the top of the food chain, plus New Products: 40 pages of new products debuting at the New York Home Fashions Market; Home Stores: TJX unveils first U.S. HomeSense store; Clicks to Bricks: Boll & Branch moves from digital to physical retailing; and much more... See details!