NW Montana Shopko stores to remain open

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The Shopko Hometown store opened in 2015 at the Mountain Mall in Whitefish. (Pilot file photo)

Though more than 100 Shopko stores across the country are closing after the retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, the stores in Kalispell, Whitefish and Libby will remain open. The Wolf Point and Plentywood stores are the only Montana locations closing.

The local market has been affected by Shopko’s financial troubles, though, as the Kalispell store’s pharmacy closed earlier this month as part of the auctioning of Shopko’s pharmacy departments nationwide.

The company was already planning to shut down more than 60 stores in December, and added more locations to the list with its bankruptcy announcement.

The company says excessive debt and ongoing competitive pressure are forcing it to seek protection from creditors. Shopko is reporting assets of less than $1 billion and liabilities of between $1 billion and $10 billion. It plans to continue operating through Chapter 11 reorganization after securing $480 million in financing from a group of lenders led by Wells Fargo Bank.

The financing will allow Shopko to continue to pay employees, vendors and suppliers. Shopko was not immediately able say how many of its 18,000 employees might be affected by the store closures.

The retailer is headquartered near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Like many big-box retailers, Shopko has struggled financially for several years. The company was taken private in 2005 by Sun Capital Partners Inc., a private equity firm based in Boca Raton, Florida. One year later, the firm sold Shopko’s land holdings to a real estate investment trust.

Sun Capital reportedly had been trying to sell Shopko, but was unable to lock down a deal.

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