Shopko to Liquidate, Will Close 300+ Stores

On March 18, Shopko, the Green Bay, Wis.–based department store chain that sells jewelry, announced plans to liquidate its fleet of more than 300 stores.

“Shopko will commence an orderly wind-down of its retail operations beginning this week,” the company said in a statement. Gordon Brothers is handling the liquidation.

The company consists of 367 stores in 25 states in the central, western,  and Pacific Northwest regions. These include 126 big box Shopko stores and 234 smaller-format Shopko Hometown stores.

The 56-year-old retailer first filed for Chapter 11 in Nebraska bankruptcy court in January. On its public-facing website, the company expressed the hope that the “outcome will be a stronger Shopko.”

Following the filing, it announced plans to close 41 stores, on top of the 70 it planned to close before the filing.

But the resulting slimmed-down 200-store chain still could not find someone to purchase its assets from current owner Sun Capital, leading it to cancel a planned auction.

“This is not the outcome that we had hoped for when we started our restructuring efforts,” said CEO Russ Steinhorst in a statement. “We want to thank all of our teammates for their hard work and dedication during their time at Shopko.”

In a first-day declaration, Steinhorst said the company had been saddled with a heavy debt load, and its comp sales have been falling since 2016, having been hit by a “shift away from traditional shopping at brick-and-mortar stores” and competition from bigger discount retailers, such as Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s.

Court papers said the company reported $2.6 billion in sales in 2017 and posted $45 million in profit that year and $38 million the year after that. It employs about 15,000 people.

No jewelry companies appear to be on its list of unsecured creditors.

In 2012, the company merged with another regional retailer, Pamida, which it had acquired in 1999, but from 2007 on had operated as a stand-alone business. The resultant 300-store chain, which rebranded Pamida stores as Shopko Hometown stores, was designed to serve smaller and rural communities.

Shopko’s bankruptcy papers can be seen here.

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JCK News Director