(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 12--Kmart will close another Oregon store, this time in Albany, as it attempts to chart a path ahead in the vastly transformed retail market.
Parent company Sears Holding Corp. has struggled to compete with online retailers and differentiate Kmart from other big-box stores. Executives announced in May that they would close at least 80 stores in 2014. The company's holiday season disappointed, and it went on to lose $221 million in first quarter 2014.
The Albany store will close Sept. 14, according to a mandatory letter sent to Oregon officials Thursday. The layoffs will affect 64 people, said Eli Gonzalez, the company's regional human resources director.
A spokesman could not be reached about what prompted the decision to close the store.
In recent years, two Portland-area Kmarts have closed, one in Milwaukie and the other in Tualatin. A Sears store that once anchored the Roseburg mall closed in 2012.
It's unclear whether any of the nine remaining Kmart stores in Oregon, including four near Portland, will also be targeted in the latest round of cuts. Sears operates about three dozen stores under its own brand name statewide.
The Albany layoffs will begin Sept. 7, a week before the store's final day.
Retail is a key industry for Albany and surrounding Linn County, where unemployment is significantly higher than the state norm. Its jobless rate is 8.6 percent, compared to 6.9 percent statewide. Pay only comes to 83 percent of the statewide average. Linn County workers, on average, take home $37,400. Retail workers earn much less on average, or $24,700 annually.
Still, about 11 percent of the county's 40,150 jobs are tied to the retail industry. Kmart's closure will cut into that base, but economists expect the industry to continue growing. Nationwide arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby opened two weeks ago in Albany's Heritage Mall and employs several dozen at its first Oregon store.
The news that Kmart would shutter its Albany store arrived after markets closed Thursday. Shares of its parent company's stock closed at $38.51, well below a 52-week high of $67.50.
-- Molly Young
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