The number of Shopko stores in Wisconsin that will close later this year as a result of the company’s financial restructuring has increased to 42, including almost all of its stores in the southeastern part of the state.
Those stores join a total of 251 stores that Shopko now plans to close throughout the Central, Western and the Pacific Northwest regions.
The Green Bay-based retailer last month filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, initially announcing it was in the process of closing 107 stores.
However, a list of store closures published on a website dedicated to the Shopko restructuring indicates that number has increased dramatically, to 251.
By mid-May, Shopko will have cut its current statewide footprint in half, continuing to operate just 39 stores. Shopko Optical stores in Mequon and Waukesha will remain open as the company’s only southeastern Wisconsin area stores.
Following the success of its four freestanding optical centers that opened in 2018, Shopko plans to relocate over 20 optical stores to freestanding locations and open additional freestanding optical locations later this year.
A Shopko subsidiary, listed as Shopko Stores Operating Co. LLC, on Wednesday filed a WARN notice with the state Department of Workforce Development indicating that a total of 578 employees at 11 locations will lose their jobs when those stores close in May. The notice included Shopko locations in Racine with 52 employees, Kenosha with 52 employees, Sheboygan with 53 employees and Watertown with 50 employees, as well as stores in DePere, Beloit, Kimberly, Monona, Marinette, Delavan and Rhinelander.
In a letter sent to DWD earlier this month, the company explained it does not have a “job bumping system,” and as a result, affected employees will not be able to take jobs from “junior employees” at other locations.
“Shopko has been a Wisconsin institution for more than 50 years and these closures will undoubtedly change the fabric of multiple Wisconsin communities,” said DWD secretary-designee Caleb Frostman in a statement. “The Department of Workforce Development has been in communication with Shopko officials to coordinate and provide Rapid Response services to the workers affected by all Shopko closings, including those previously reported by the media and the 11 DWD received notice of today.”
A group of lenders, led by Wells Fargo, will provide $480 million in funding to help support Shopko’s operations during its reorganization process. The funds will allow the company to continue paying suppliers, vendors and business partners.