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    Landlords Replace Kmart, DCs Layoff Workers

    TROY, Mich. - Kmart Holding Corp. is closing two stores in Columbia, Mo., and Atlanta---but not by choice. Rather, the landlords are giving Kmart's leases to other retailers, including Best Buy, reports the Detroit Free Press. Elsewhere, the retailer is laying off workers at two distribution facilities.

    TROY, Mich. - Kmart Holding Corp. is closing two stores in Columbia, Mo., and Atlanta---but not by choice. Rather, the landlords are giving Kmart's leases to other retailers, including Best Buy, reports the Detroit Free Press. Elsewhere, the retailer is laying off workers at two distribution facilities.

    In Columbia and Atlanta, property owners said they want to redevelop the retail sites with different tenants, said the Free Press. The Kmart leases expire early next year. Kmart said the Atlanta store would close by the end of January and the Columbia store will be closed in February. Both stores are conducting store-closing sales.

    The Columbia store, owned by Raul Walters Properties, will eliminate 100 jobs. The owner will replace Kmart with a Best Buy store and a Hobby Lobby crafts store. Plans for the Atlanta store were not announced, said the Free Press. Kmart said it is not planning to replace stores in those markets; it does, however, plan to expand its store base again in 2005.

    On the DC side, Kmart announced it is closing its Billerica, Mass. distribution center when its lease on the 630,000-square-foot building expires in February. This will leave 250 hourly workers and 40 managers out of work, said the Free Press. They were informed Dec. 2 in accordance with federal law that requires a 60-day written notice to employees when operations close.

    At its Canton DC, Kmart laid off 120 workers last week. Canton workers ratified their first union contract last November. About 450 workers represented by United Auto Workers Local 174 voted to accept the three-year agreement.

    Kmart, which emerged from bankruptcy in May, laid off 57,100 employees during its Chapter 11 reorganization and closed 600 stores.

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