Sears exploring sale of home improvement business

By Jessica DiNapoli and Mike Spector

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sears is exploring a sale of its home improvement business following interest from potential suitors such as private equity firms, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The struggling U.S. retailer’s Sears Home Services division has emerged as a coveted asset during the COVID-19 pandemic, as consumers embark on renovations while they stay home.

The division is one of the department store operator’s few crown jewels following its bankruptcy in 2018 and $5.2 billion sale to hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert, who was already its biggest shareholder and creditor.

Transformco, the owner of the Sears and Kmart retail chains, could raise at least $1 billion by divesting the home improvement business, the sources said. Sears has tapped investment bankers at Guggenheim Securities LLC to explore selling the business, the sources said.

Transformco could also sell a stake in Sears Home Services and retain some ownership of the business, one of the sources said, cautioning that a deal may not come together at all.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Transformco and Guggenheim declined to comment.

Sears Home Services handles work such as appliance

Read The Rest

Some homeowners struggled to pay PACE improvement loans. The coronavirus made it harder

It wasn’t until the work was done that Marcelino and Josefina Rodriguez said they learned the truth.

They had been signed up for a roughly $45,000 PACE home improvement loan at nearly 10% interest — even though they said a woman working with the contractor told them their new roof and water heater would be free through a government program.

The Rodriguezes contacted the authorities, but the nearly $4,500 annual bill came due anyway — a financial hit for the household of four who scraped by on less than $30,000 each year as garment workers paid by the piece.

If they didn’t pay, Marcelino, 67, and Josefina, 64, could lose the Pacoima home they’ve owned since 2001, one that provided them and their sons stability after years of bouncing from rental to rental. So to get by, they started selling food and one of their sons said he exhausted his savings.

It was working — until the coronavirus slashed their incomes.

“I don’t know how we are going to pay,” Marcelino Rodriguez said in Spanish through a translator. To lose the house “would destroy me.”

As the economy struggles to recover from coronavirus-induced damage, consumer groups are raising concerns of

Read The Rest

Coronavirus Feeds Home Improvement Trend, Stocks to Count on

The COVID-19-induced shelter-at-home orders fuelled the need for home improvement by housebound Americans, thereby driving demand for the said industry.

The home improvement space includes Décor and indoor garden, Painting and wallpaper, Tools and hardware, Building materials, Lighting et al.  Apart from essentials, retailers in this industry are witnessing solid demand for gardening and other in-house activity-related products.

Although states are reopening and people are reporting back to work, the emergence of new cases triggers the fear of a second wave, only to remind us that the deadly virus is not going to subside anytime soon. Rather, the pandemic threat keep people confined to their homes, spurring the obvious requirement for home improvement products.

One of the leading industry players, management at Lowes disclosed that it saw very strong COVID-related demand for cleaning products along with other necessary home appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers and DIY home repair products. As customers remained in home isolation during the first quarter, they got engaged in a variety of projects that drove double-digit comps in core spring-related categories apart from paint and other critical repair plus maintenance categories.

Also tighter budgets due to the overall economic misery taught Americans to get more bang

Read The Rest