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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, July 19, 2024


March 8, 2002 – Kmart shoppers in the Virgin Islands can breathe a sigh of relief: None of the territory's four stores are on the list of 284 that will close their doors under the retail giant's bankruptcy restructuring plan.
"I'm happy. I go there every pay day," St. John resident Margaret Wells said.
Kmart Corp. announced Friday that the blue light will stop blinking at 271 discount stores and 12 supercenters in 40 states and one store in Humacao, Puerto Rico. The stores will remain open until the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois approves the plan and the stores hold going-out-of-business sales.
"The decision to close these underperforming stores, which do not meet our financial requirements going forward, is an integral part of the company's reorganization effort," Kmart's chief executive officer, Charles C. Conaway, said in a release issued Friday.
In the Virgin Islands, Kmart has stores at Tutu Park Mall and Lockhart Gardens on St. Thomas and Sunny Isle Shopping Center and Sunshine Mall on St. Croix.
On Jan. 22, when Kmart corporate officials announced they would be assessing their more than 21,000 stores to see which ones were underperforming, local store executives had said that they expected the V.I. outlets to remain open. Nonetheless, there was some trepidation among residents. In the absence of any other large chain department stores, Kmart is the favorite of many V.I. shoppers. "I go there for everything," Wells said.
Local Kmart managers said Friday they are pleased that their stores are among those that will remain open. "It's business as usual," Kevin Bryan, manager of the Sunny Isle store, said. George Newton, manager at the Tutu Park Mall store, said while he is glad his store and the others across the territory are not on the closing list, he still feels bad that "associates" and customers in other locations will be impacted. "We're looking forward to brighter days," he said.
About 22,000 Kmart employees nationwide will lose their jobs, the company announced. Conaway said managers were notifying employees at affected stores on Friday.
In the release, Kmart officials said that by closing the 284 stores, they expect to enhance the company's cash flow by $550 million this year and by $45 million a year thereafter. The move should improve the company's earnings by about $31 million a year excluding interest, taxes and depreciation, they said.
The release said Kmart expects the Bankruptcy Court to give final approval to its store-closing plans on March 20.
A complete list of closing Kmart stores is available on line at www.bluelight.com. Click on "latest corporate news," then "Kmart media information center" and finally, "general press releases."

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