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Stanley Black & Decker among largest creditors in Sears bankruptcy

Stanley Black & Decker, which runs a growing headquarters in Towson for its power tools and storage divisions, is among the largest creditors in Sears Holdings Corp.’s bankruptcy, filed Monday.

Connecticut-based Stanley, which bought Sears’ iconic Craftsman tool brand last year, is owed $5.9 million, according to Sears’ Chapter 11 filing. Stanley Black & Decker supplies Sears with tools, appliances and other products under brands such as Black & Decker and DeWalt.

Another local tool maker stands to lose millions too. Sparks-based Apex Tool International, a hand tool and power tool manufacturer, is listed among Sears’ top 15 unsecured creditors, owed $6.6 million. Apex could not be reached for comment.

Sears Holdings, parent of Sears and Kmart store chains, said Monday it plans to restructure and close 142 unprofitable stores by the end of the year, in addition to 46 stores already planned to close by next month. The struggling retailer has 687 Sears and Kmart stores, one-third the number it ran five years ago.

Sears already had closed Baltimore area department stores in Hunt Valley Towne Center, Eastpoint Mall and Hagerstown, and had closed Kmart stores in Dundalk, Elkton, Crofton and Salisbury.

Stanley acquired the Craftsman tool brand in March 2017 for nearly $900 million to be paid over three years. The deal gave Stanley rights to sell Craftsman outside of Sears, while allowing Sears to sell some former Craftsman products.

Sears can sell Craftsman products it developed prior to the agreement or any new Craftsman products it develops but only within Sears store channels. Under a 15-year, royalty-free license granted to Sears, Sears can not reassign the brand to any other entity.

“Our purchase of the Craftsman brand was structured in a way to minimize exposure to Sears,” said Tim Perra, a Stanley spokesman. “We assumed no contractual credit risk from Sears relative to the transaction.”

Shortly after the deal closed, the Connecticut tool maker launched a ground-up remake of the tool line, hoping to revitalize a name that had languished alongside the struggling department store. Plans call for expanding the now Towson-based Craftsman into a $1 billion business.

In August, Stanley unveiled a new line of 1,200 Craftsman products, which are being sold at Lowe’s, Ace hardware stores and on Amazon.

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