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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Sears in Clearwater’s Countryside Mall to close in mid-July

CLEARWATER — The Westfield Countryside Mall Sears will close in mid-July as part of Sears Holdings’ latest store cuts, bringing the number of shuttering Kmarts and Sears to nearly 200.

The store’s liquidation sale will begin on Friday, according to Sears Holdings spokesman Howard Riefs.

In an emailed statement, Riefs said closing the Clearwater store was a "difficult, but necessary decision."

"We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and have accelerated the closing of unprofitable stores as previously announced," Riefs said.

He made the same comments last week when news broke a Brandon Kmart, also owned by Sears Holdings, would close its doors in late June.

Read more:Brandon Kmart closing, cutting 76 jobs

Sears Holdings announced earlier this year its plans to close 166 stores. Reports from Business Insider say about two dozen more stores are in the latest cuts.

"Having fewer stores — and the right format — will help us bring Sears Holdings to a size and place to meet the realities of the changing retail world," Reifs said.

The Clearwater Sears had already been reduced in size to accommodate the 37,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market. But the remaining space is still sizeable, over 100,000 square feet.

Retailers have been having luck with smaller footprints. A new speciality food store, Lucky’s Market, as well as Dick’s Sporting Goods and array of other tenants have taken over the former Sears box near the Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg.

Read more: Lucky’s Market to host jobs fair to fill 100-plus jobs in St. Petersburg

The owners of Tampa’s University Mall bought the 141,000-square-foot Sears space from Sears Holdings in March, but said the retailer would continue to operate there.

Riefs did not say how many Sears workers would be losing their jobs. Seventy-six will be cut from the closing Kmart, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN)notice.

All associates losing their jobs are eligible for severance and can apply for any openings at remaining Sears or Kmart stores.

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

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