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Report: Sears needs 'material progress' to avoid liquidation, Lampert says

Sears Holdings Corp.'s chairman wants employees to prove that the company still has a viable business plan, CNBC reported Oct. 16.

Citing a transcript based on a speech that Sears Chairman Edward Lampert gave to employees Oct. 16, CNBC reported that Lampert said the company must improve its results in order to avoid liquidation. The Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Oct. 15, a move that surprised some analysts who expected Sears to proceed directly to a liquidation through a Chapter 7 filing.

"We need to show material progress over the next few months to establish to our senior lenders that a reorganization of the company is realistic and to avoid a shutdown and liquidation," Lampert reportedly said, according to the CNBC report.

A spokesman for Sears did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Lampert, who manages Sears through hedge fund ESL Investments Inc., announced his intention to acquire Sears in 2004. At the time, his goal was to combine Sears with Kmart and grow the combined retailer.

But sales have slowed since then, and Sears has posted losses since 2010. Lampert, meanwhile, has sold or spun off parts of the business, including product brands and the real estate that houses many of its stores.

"There were mistakes along the way, for which I take responsibility," Lampert reportedly said, according to the report. "Those failures have affected me in many ways far greater than any success I have had."