Struggling retailers will look to their real estate portfolios to help ease debt loads in the coming year. Several retailers, including American Apparel (NYSE: APP), RadioShack (NYSE: RSH), J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) and Sears (NYSE: SHLD), may wind up in bankruptcy because of distress in various areas of the companies.
Retailers are particularly prone to distress because of the volatility of the sector. Some retailers have already used Chapter 11 as an opportunity to restructure their real estate assets in 2014. In April, retailer Coldwater Creek filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and ended up selling store leases for about $1.7 million to pay back creditors.
Dots LLC filed for bankruptcy in January and immediately filed a motion to reject store leases. The company said it closed 36 or about 400 stores before it filed for bankruptcy because they were “operating at a loss and thus eroding the value of their estates.”
Sears, which has been losing money for more than nine straight quarters, announced a potential sale-leaseback transaction in November. The struggling department store would potential sell and then lease back between 200 and 300 stores, which would be sold to a real estate investment trust called the Hoffman Estates. Even before that potential transaction was announced, Sears had planned to lease locations in the northeast to Primark Stores Ltd. a British retailer that is expanding in the U.S.
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