Meridian Kmart to Close

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Kmart Corp. will close 326 stores in dozens of states and cut 30,000 to 35,000 jobs under its plan to emerge from bankruptcy by April 30, chief executive James Adamson said Tuesday.

The Troy-based retailer currently operates roughly 1,830 stores.

The store closings are subject to court approval. Kmart is scheduled to appear in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago on Jan. 28.

Kmart stores in Mississippi that are closing are in Jackson, Meridian and Yazoo City.

Tuesday's announcement marks the second round of closings in less than a year. Last March, Kmart closed 283 stores, affecting 22,000 jobs.

The closings, which also include one distribution center in Texas, are in 44 states and Puerto Rico.

"We're all upset. I've been here since 1998. I helped build this store up," said Sharon Knight, an employee at a Detroit Kmart who learned Tuesday that her store is one of those closing.

Knight, who works behind the jewelry counter, said employees were told the store is planning to close within 60 to 70 days. The Detroit Kmart store slated for closure is one of just two in the city.

Kmart filed for bankruptcy nearly a year ago after a stock dive and disappointing 2001 holiday sales.

The company needs to close stores while under bankruptcy protection to allow it to get out of leases. The stores targeted for closure include those with unprofitable leases, underperforming stores and those where competitive pressure is high.

Ron Hutchison, the company's chief restructuring officer, said Kmart's common stock will have no value once Kmart emerges from bankruptcy.