Sears Holdings Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert wants to set the record straight regarding recent reports that Kmart is winding down operations.
"I can tell you that there are no plans and there have never been any plans to close the Kmart format. In fact, we’ve been working hard to make Kmart a more fun, engaging place to shop, powered by our integrated retail innovations and Shop Your Way," he said in a statement.
"To report or suggest otherwise is irresponsible and is likely intended to do harm to our company to the benefit of those who seek to gain advantage from posting these inaccurate reports."
Lampert is referring to reports this summer that store employees were afraid operations were winding down. While there have been more announced closings of specific stores, Lampert wants to make it clear that work continues for Kmart (and Sears) to regain profitability and continue retail operations.
He pointed to new initiatives such as a new partnership with Uber that lets members of Sears' Shop Your Way rewards program link their accounts to earn points and monetary rewards for each Uber ride.
Uber drivers can also earn Shop Your Way points and are being incentivized to use Sears Auto Centers for maintenance. Uber's Preferred Maintenance Providers for its fleet of drivers, offering exclusive discounts and points. Uber Driver Partners will receive 50 percent off all oil changes and 30 percent back in points on all labor at Sears Auto Centers.
Kmart recently debuted a new store near its Hoffman Estates, Illinois headquarters with a number of new features, including enhanced services for Shop Your Way rewards members.
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There are also new programs around the flagship brands including new smart home devices, although Lampert has said the brands themselves could be sold if the price was right.
It's a conflicted message: Assets and owned property will be monetized, but yet, the goal is to be a profitable retailer.
Kmart still operates roughly 700 stores and according to Lampert, "a significant number of these stores are profitable and have been profitable for many years."
"We have been clear that we are intent on improving the performance of our unprofitable stores and, if we cannot, we will close them. Actions to improve our store productivity, including reducing inventory stored in the stockrooms, are designed to make our stores easier to operate and to eliminate unproductive inventory and processes. Decisions to close stores are never easy, but we recognize that the way people are shopping is changing significantly. This is why we have made major investments in our online and mobile platforms and this is why our focus on serving members through Shop Your Way is so important."