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Florida will have just four Kmart stores. More Sears are closing, too.

What’s the future of Kmart and Sears in the Sunshine State after the latest round of closures?
Shoppers walk into the Kmart in Kenneth City, which will close by the start of 2020. By February, Florida will only have four Kmarts left. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Shoppers walk into the Kmart in Kenneth City, which will close by the start of 2020. By February, Florida will only have four Kmarts left. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 8, 2019
Updated Nov. 8, 2019

The same week Kmart’s parent company confirmed its last Tampa Bay location would close in early 2020, it announced another swath of mass closings that will leave just four Kmarts in Florida.

Come February, the nearest Kmart to Tampa Bay will be in Miami. The Kenneth City location near St. Petersburg will close in January. Many of the remaining Sears in Florida will be appliance outlets, not signature mall department stores.

In total, just 182 Kmart and Sears locations will be left, according to the chains’ parent company, Transformco. For comparison: JC Penney, also a struggling department store, has about 860 stores.

Transformco also announced $250 million in new financing from its owners and a “third-party investor" as it pursues new strategies.

Related: Tampa Bay’s last Kmart will close in January

"Transformco has faced a difficult retail environment and other challenges,” the parent company said in a statement. “We have been working hard to position Transformco for success by focusing on our competitive strengths and pruning operations that have struggled due to increased competition and other factors.”

Former Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert created Transformco in a last-ditch effort to save the chains by buying the company’s remaining assets out of bankruptcy in February 2019.

Sears department stores in Cutler Bay, Hialeah and Fort Myers will be closed by February, too. Just over a dozen of the full-service department stores will remain in Florida, including the ones in Brandon and Brooksville, according to the Sears store list.

Several Outlet stores like in Tampa and Clearwater or auto service centers like at University Mall in Tampa will also remain open. Sears Hometown stores — which Tampa Bay doesn’t have — are also unaffected by the string of closures.

Transformco acquired the Sears Outlet and Sears Hometown stores it didn’t already own this year. The outlets have discounted merchandise, while Sears Hometown has a small footprint and focuses on tools and appliances.

In total, more than 400 of those locations remain nationwide.

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