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Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Kmart ends 15 months of bankruptcy protection

May 7, 2003

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— Kmart Corp. emerged from bankruptcy Tuesday after more than 15 months of Chapter 11 protection.

The Troy-based retailer has 600 fewer stores and new leadership since filing for protection from its creditors in early 2002. It also has a $2 billion loan to compete against bigger retailers like Wal-Mart and Target.

Company spokesman Jack Ferry confirmed the emergence from bankruptcy had been completed. The company's reorganization plan had been approved by a federal bankruptcy judge April 21.

Investor Edward Lampert's company, ESL Investments, is converting $2 billion in financial claims against Kmart into stock and will own a 49 percent stake in the company.

Kmart entered bankruptcy Jan. 22, 2002, after a poor holiday selling season and a reputation for having cluttered stores and items out of stock. It had 2,114 stores at the time, but it now has about 1,500.

The company has rebuilt its corporate structure to streamline purchasing and ensure stores are stocked with popular items. Only 15 employees are now authorized to give final approval to orders, down from 220.

Kmart operates a distribution center in Lawrence. Last month it closed its lone Lawrence store as part of its reorganization plan.

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