Kmart Company History Timeline


The following year Kresge resigned the presidency he had held since 1907 to concentrate on long-range goal-setting as company chairman.


In 1912, Kresge incorporated the S.S. Kresge Company in Delaware with eighty-five stores.


In 1916, Kresge incorporated a new S.S. Kresge Company in Michigan and took over the operations of the original company; the new company in Michigan is the modern day Kmart company.


The company was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange on May 23, 1918.


Undaunted, Kresge opened a chain of Green Front units in 1920, all selling merchandise at prices ranging between 25C and $1.


In 1924 the company's 257 stores generated annual sales of $90 million.


Kresge retired as president in 1925.


Another long-range goal crystallized in September 1928, with the formation of a Canadian subsidiary that opened the country's first Kresge store the following May.


Based in Kitchener, Ontario, the initial venture was so successful that the company's $5 million investment financed another 18 stores in locations from Winnipeg to Montreal by the end of 1929.

The company's orderly expansion changed after 1929, when the Depression-era stock market plunged the price of Kresge stock from $57.50 per share to an eventual low of $5.50.


“S.S. Kresge Expansion Is Costly,” Barron’s, September 7, 1936.

By 1936, however, the chairman had bought back at cost his own shares plus the 251,306 others owned by the management.


Ten years later in 1937, Kresge opened a store in the country's first suburban shopping center -- Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.


“Kresge’s,” Fortune, June 1, 1940.

Together, the stores produced 1940 sales of $158.7 million.

The Great Depression reduced profitability and resulted in store closings, with the number rising to 682 in 1940.


By 1958 these mini-restaurants were so popular that at least one new or remodeled facility opened alongside a delicatessen counter in some Kresge store each week.


In 1959, coinciding with the opening of the first Kresge store in Puerto Rico, Harry Blair Cunningham succeeded to the presidency of S.S. Kresge Company.


It was renamed as K-Mart in 1962 under the leadership of Harry Cunningham and is presently the third largest discount chain in the world, after only Walmart and Target.

In 1962, under a program designed by company president Harry B. Cunningham, Kresge’s entered the large-scale discount retail market with construction of the first Kmart store outside Detroit.


Although discount retailing had gained momentum somewhat later in Canada than in the United States, the Canadian subsidiary had opened its first K mart in London, Ontario, in 1963.


He died in September 1966 at the age of 99, having retired from the company chairmanship only three months earlier.

Company founder Kresge died on October 18, 1966 at age 99.

In 1966 company sales topped the $1 billion mark for the first time.


Those print ads were the precursor to radio promotions, which followed 20 years later, and then TV commercials, which began to air in 1968.


By 1969 S.S. Kresge Company had decided against purchasing of the licensee of its automotive departments, instead opening another subsidiary called K mart Enterprises, Inc., to operate the departments, now so popular that 56 had opened in that year alone.


“When 2 Cents = $380 Million,” Forbes, April 1, 1970.

All these factors led to an earnings slowdown in 1970’s first quarter, bringing its stock down 11.5 points in one day.

Still, sales for 1970 reached almost $2.2 billion.

All these factors led to an earnings slowdown in 1970’s first quarter, bringing company stock down 11.5 points in one day.

All these factors led to an earnings slowdown in 1970's first quarter, bringing company stock down 11.5 points in one day.


In 1976 S.S. Kresge opened a record 271 Kmart stores in one year.


For this reason, shareholders changed the company name to K mart Corporation in 1977.

1977: With Kmarts accounting for almost 95 percent of sales, the company changes its name to Kmart Corporation.


Other changes included the 1978 sale of the company’s 51% interest in K mart (Australia) Limited to Coles Myer for new Coles Myer shares, thus closing out K mart’s ownership of the Australian K mart stores.


Changes in public taste showed up in lagging profits, which sank 27% in 1980 on record sales reaching $14.2 billion.

By the beginning of 1980, Kmart's rapid expansion started taking its toll on the existing stores.

In 1980, Vice Chairman Bernard M. Fauber was elected as the Chairman and as the CEO of Kmart.


Main, Jeremy, “Kmart’s Plan to Be Born Again, Again,” Fortune, September 21, 1981.

In 1981 the two-thousandth Kmart store was opened.


Next came the Walden Book Company (Walden-books), costing $300 million for 845 stores that had produced sales of $417 million in 1983.


In 1984 K mart expanded its acquisition program and diversified into specialty markets.

In 1984 there was another change in K mart strategy when apparel division president Joseph Antonini launched a new line of clothes named for actress Jaclyn Smith that helped to turn apparel into the company’s fastest-growing business.

1984: Diversification into specialty retailing begins with purchase of Home Centers of America (renamed Builders Square) and Walden Book Company.


There was another change in 1985--this one in Kmart strategy when apparel division president Joseph Antonini launched a new line of clothes named for and designed by actress Jaclyn Smith that helped turn apparel into the company's fastest-growing business.

1985: First celebrity product line is introduced--the Jaclyn Smith line of clothes.


In 1987, the company began one of the most important associations in its history: introducing Martha Stewart (see Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. entry) as Kmart's entertainment and lifestyle spokesperson and consultant.

The celebrities helped the bottom line--profits for 1987 rose 19 percent, to reach $692 million on total sales of $25.6 billion.

By the time he succeeded to the company chairmanship in 1987, Antonini's strategy had added racing driver Mario Andretti to the list for automotive accessories promotions, Fuzzy Zoeller for golf products, and domestic doyenne Martha Stewart for kitchen and housewares support.

1987: Martha Stewart's association with Kmart begins; most United States Kresge and Jupiter stores are sold to McCrory Corporation.


Sellers, Patricia, “Attention, Kmart Shoppers,” Fortune, January 2, 1989.

In 1989 K mart acquired PACE Membership Warehouse, Inc. and the remaining 49% of Makro, converting Makro stores to PACE formats.


Until November 1990, when it was passed by Walmart, Kmart was the second-largest retailer in the United States, after Sears.

In 1990 it bought The Sports Authority and converted the Sports Giant stores into Sports Authority.

Also in 1990, the company began a six-year overhaul of all Kmart stores; including some openings, closings, enlargements, and refurbishings.

By this time, Wal-Mart had emerged as a credible threat and overtook Kmart in sales and market share in 1990.

In 1990, in an effort to update its image, Kmart introduced a new logo.

The Sports Authority was acquired by Kmart in 1990 and spun-off 5 years later.


On the marketing side, Conaway brought back the Blue Light Special--which had been shelved in 1991--in an attempt to instill some excitement into the stores, and prices were permanently trimmed on 38,000 everyday items in a new "Blue Light Always" pricing strategy.


By 1992 Kmart was still in an acquisition mode, buying 13 stores in the Czech Republic and Slovakia's Maj department store chain; Borders book superstores as a complement to Waldenbooks; and Intelligent Electronic's Bizmart chain.

In 1992, Kmart entered the Eastern European market with the purchase of 13 stores in the former Czechoslovakia.

Kmart's profitability and sales peaked in 1992, and have since declined due to competition with Walmart, Target, and internet shopping.


In 1993 Kmart sold 91 of its 113 PACE membership Warehouses to Wal-Mart.


1994-95:Numerous noncore assets are shed, including PACE, OfficeMax, Sports Authority, Borders Group, and 860 auto service centers.

In 1994, Kmart announced they would close 110 stores.


More serious than ever in its reorganization, Kmart's newest journey began with the appointment of Floyd Hall, former chairman of Target stores, as president, CEO, and chairman of the board in June 1995.

In September 1995, Kmart sold its money-losing in-store auto repair centers to Penske Corporation for $112 million to operate them as Penske Auto Centers.


sellers, patricia. "kmart is down for the count." fortune, 15 january 1996.

"kmart announces turnaround strategy." gazette telegraph online, 17 february 1996. available at

Brauer, Molly, “Kmart Posts Profit, Denies Buyout Rumor,” Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News, November 21, 1996.

In 1996, a complete redesign of the Kmart store was launched, making them cleaner, brighter and easier to shop.

Rumors of bankruptcy swarmed Wall Street, but Kmart put out a letter in 1996 stating it had no intention of filing such a claim.

With some 265,000 Kmart associates, Kmart was the sixth largest employer in the United States at the end of 1996.

Just prior to the filing, James B. Adamson was named Kmart chairman, with Conaway remaining CEO. Adamson had been a Kmart director since 1996 and had previously served as chairman and CEO of Advantica Restaurant Group, Inc., owner and operator of mid-priced restaurant chains, such as Denny's.

These stores were sold off in 1996.


Kmart alone raised $2.5 million for the March of Dimes in 1997.

robinson, edward a. "america's most admired companies." fortune, 3 march 1997.

Big Kmart opened in Chicago, Illinois, on April 23, 1997.

The company's fourth quarter profits in 1997 were the best in five years, prompting analysts to begin recommending Kmart stock.

In 1997 the company entered into a strategic alliance with Little Caesars and unveiled a new "KCafe" prototype in about 750 stores.

In 1997 the company introduced an on-line application process for the Kmart credit card.

The company had a more aggressive marketing program in 1997, issuing its first-ever toy catalog.

A 1997 Time article reported that the collection offered "Kmart's shoppers (median income: $35,000) the kind of items that Martha might buy, at an affordable price." The collection consisted of bed and bath fashions and a 256-color paint line.

Initially, the Big Kmart stores were successful, and by the end of 1997, Kmart had seen their sales numbers grow by 10% due to success of their Big Kmart stores.

In 1997, Kmart launched the Kmart Cash Card as a replacement for the paper gift certificates and to facilitate the return process.


preddy, melissa. "kmart growth continues: emphasis on revamped stores, lower prices is paying off, hall says." detroit news, 27 february 1998.

The company planned to open an additional seven new Big Kmart stores with 520 conversions in 1998.

1998: Kmart sells its stores in Canada to Hudson's Bay Company.

In 1998, Kmart acquired 45 former Venture stores and converted them into Big Kmart stores.


In July 1999, Kmart hired SuperValu and Fleming to distribute $3.9 billion worth of food and other related products to all Kmart stores.

With some 275,000 Kmart employees (called "associates" by the company) through 1999, Kmart was the sixth largest employer in the United States.

By 1999 Hall was confident enough of the company's future to announce plans to open 400 stores over the next five years, with half of the units to be Super Kmart Centers.

By the end of 1999, Kmart saw another increase in sales numbers by 6.5% due to the success of their Big Kmart stores.


Kmart’s expansion continued throughout the 20th century, and by 2000 the company operated 2,200 Kmart, Big Kmart, and Super Kmart stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Hall retired as chairman, president, and CEO in early 2000.

Searching for a new strategy, Kmart brought in a new CEO, Floyd Hall (who stayed at the helm only to 2000), and a new management team and board of directors, either highly paid or overpaid depending on one's view, were put in place.

In 2000, when Charles C. Conaway took the top Kmart position, he pushed to strengthen marketing efforts to serve mothers and their children, but failed when the store took too long to replenish out-of-stock items.

In 2000, Kmart and Capital One launched an all-new co-branded MasterCard as a replacement for the private label Kmart credit cards.

Also in 2000, Kmart expanded the Martha Stewart Everyday Garden Collection to include live plants and seeds.

In spite of reverses, Kmart remains an extremely high volume retail store. Its 2000 sales amounted to $37 billion and its earnings the same year were $244 million.


In February 2001, Japanese video game company Sega sued Kmart for failure to pay $2.2 million of $25.9 million for Sega Dreamcast game systems.

One of the ways Conaway tried to compete with Wal-Mart was to reintroduce the "Blue Light Special" in 2001, ten years after it was discontinued.

2001: Declining sales amid intense competition leads to liquidity crisis and halts in shipments from major vendors.

In 2001, Kmart opened several new Super Kmart stores as part of Kmart's plan to expand their Super Kmart Center store portfolio, along with Kmart trying to make groceries available at stores as well.

In 2001, Kmart signed a $4.5 billion arrangement with Fleming, making them the sole food and consumables distributor for the company's stores.


In February 2002 Kmart launched a new advertising campaign featuring television commercials directed by Spike Lee and sporting a "family values" theme and the tagline "Kmart.

In March 2002, Kmart officials confirmed that at least 284 stores would be closed in an "orderly" fashion, but a nationwide network of about 1,000 employees formed an Internet site to express their grievances against Kmart management.

In 2002 the company kept all of the above except for Penske which proved an unprofitable partnership.

The 2002 store closings, however, demonstrated certain patterns of regional sales weaknesses.

Kmart's strategy in 2002 was yet to be announced by yet another CEO, James B. Adamson, but most analysts agreed that the company needed to learn from mistakes of the past or die.

Whatever strategies Adamson's new marketing team in 2002 chooses to adopt, Kmart must implement initiatives to draw customers into stores and heighten their positive experiences while shopping.


Under the leadership of President Julian C. Day, who was promoted to Chief Executive Officer in January 2003, the Company achieved several important objectives during its fast-track reorganization.

On January 13, 2003, Kmart closed 326 stores due to a lack of profitability and poor sales.

On June 10, 2003, Kmart began trading on the NASDAQ stock market with the ticker symbol of KMRT with Lampert serving as the chairman and with ESL Investments controlling 53% of the new company for an investment of less than $1 billion.

As the company attempted to emerge from bankruptcy by mid-2003, its biggest challenge was to find a niche to occupy.


On July 23, 2004, a new Kmart logo featuring a large red "K" with "kmart" in small block letters underneath it was announced.

On August 12, 2004, Kmart and E! Entertainment Television announced a new, exclusive, cross-promotional clothing brand called Attention.

On November 8, 2004, Kmart launched the Kmart Rewards credit card that is managed by HSBC Bank.

On November 17, 2004, Kmart's management announced its intention to purchase Sears for $11 billion.

Adamson and other Kmart executives remained hopeful and projected a revival for the company by spring 2004.


In 2005, Sears Holdings Corporation introduced the Sears Essentials store format, which was supposed be like a Sears store and a Kmart store mixed together.

Kmart started remodeling stores to the "Orange" prototype in 2005.


In 2006, the company discontinued the Sears Essentials name, and renamed all of the Sears Essentials stores as Sears Grand stores.

In 2006, the typical white and blue interior of the stores was changed to orange and brown, and shelf heights were lowered to create better sightlines.


Kmart was awarded with the “Outstanding Corporate Citizen” Title in 2008 for its support towards the “Step Out: Walk to fight Diabetes” campaign and is the third largest discount store chain in the world followed by Walmart and Target.

The celebrity and the discount retailer agreed, however, that as long as Kmart was able to pay Stewart's company for the products it sold, Stewart's contract would extend until 2008.

Kmart’s philanthropic initiatives include Kmart for kids which is an umbrella program making an effort to allow children across USA to live a happy and healthy life. It also became a national sponsor for “Step Out: Walk To Fight Diabetes”, an American Diabetes Association initiative and successfully raised around $ 1.5 million in 2008 for it.


In July 2009, Sears Holdings opened its first Sears-branded appliance store inside a Kmart.

In 2009 Stewart accused Kmart of allowing her line to “deteriorate,” and their partnership ended the following year.

Blue Light Specials were revived again in 2009 on Saturdays, offering surprise hour-long sales on selected merchandise, but were discontinued again.


On December 27, 2011, after a disastrous holiday sales season, Sears Holdings announced that 100 to 120 of Sears and Kmart stores would close.


The Revenue collection for Kmart was U$ 15.285 billion in 2012.

Kmart's headquarters were relocated to Hoffman Estates, Illinois, and in 2012 the sprawling headquarters complex in Troy, Michigan, was acquired by the Forbes Company, which owns the nearby upscale mall, Somerset Collection.


On October 10, 2014, Kmart was a victim of a data breach concerning customers' credit and debit card information.

Along with store closings, measures included the spinning off its Lands' End division, selling most of its stake in Sears Canada, issuing debt and taking on loans that cumulatively put it on track to raise $1.445 billion in cash in 2014.


In April 2016, Kmart announced that it was liquidating 68 stores.

The chain announced in September 2016 that 64 more stores in 28 states would close by mid-December 2016.


In January 2017, Kmart announced that 78 more stores would close, including the first Kmart location in Garden City, Michigan.

In May 2017, Kmart announced the upcoming closure of 18 more stores.

In early June 2017, Kmart announced that an additional 49 stores across the United States were to be shuttered by September 2017.

In early July 2017, Kmart had announced that 35 more stores would close by early October 2017.

In late August 2017, Kmart announced another 28 store closures, including the last Rhode Island location, in Cranston.

On October 17, 2017, Kmart announced the liquidation of an unspecified number of locations by late November.

On October 11, 2017, with no closing sale held, the Kmart store in Santa Rosa, California, was apparently burnt down by wildfires in the Bay Area, adding to the list of closed stores.

According to, Kmart and Sears did not run any television advertisements during the 2017 holiday season in order to focus on digital marketing after evaluating the effectiveness of its various marketing efforts.


On March 26, 2018, CEO Eddie Lampert said, "I'm not sure Kmart on its own could ever be a great retailer," implying that the company was trying to shift to online shopping as opposed to brick and mortar stores.

On April 12, 2018, Sears announced plans to close and auction 16 of its Sears stores, and close several more Kmart locations, but did not specify how many.

On August 23, 2018, it was announced that 13 more stores would close by November.

On November 8, 2018, Sears Holdings announced it would close an additional 40 stores, including 11 Kmart stores.


On January 19, 2019, Sears Holdings officially announced that they had won the auction, and that some of the then existing stores were to remain open.

In papers filed on February 1 with the bankruptcy court, ESL "outlined plans to close three Kmart stores per month in 2019" if the court would decide to accept ESL's purchase bid.

On August 29, 2019, the massive closure of 77 Kmart stores was announced, with the stores being closed by December 15, 2019.


The Wall Street Journal reported that Transformco "would continue to evaluate its retail footprint, suggesting that additional closures are possible." On February 6, 2020, Kmart announced it would close 15 more stores.


"Kmart Corporation ." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved June 21, 2022 from

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Kmart is 124 years old.

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S. S. Kresge founded Kmart.

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