TROY, Mich.—In the wake of Kmart Corp.'s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Penske Auto Centers Inc. is maintaining a wait-and-see stance.
Meanwhile, it's business as usual for the nation's largest tire retailer.
“We're open for business,” a Penske spokeswoman told Tire Business. “Nothing has changed. We're obviously respectful of Kmart's issues and what they have to deal with.… We can't react until Kmart makes decisions. When decisions get made we'll obviously have to review the decisions.”
Kmart filed for Chapter 11 protection Monday, but said its 2,100 stores would remain operational. Thirty percent of those stores have Penske centers tied to them.
Nonetheless, Penske is refusing to speculate what might happen, the spokeswoman said, choosing rather to await Kmart's next move. She said that while Penske has no doubt given thought to options in the near future, the company will continue to provide automotive care.
“As things progress and things change, then we'll comment about things,” she said.
According to news reports, Kmart stock has lost 85 percent of its value since the start of the year, and incurred a 50-percent swoon after the mass merchandiser's Chapter 11 announcement.
“I think the whole situation has caused uneasiness with everyone. It's not a pleasant subject,” the Penske spokeswoman said, but added: “It's not uneasy on our behalf. It's not impacting us.”
Troy-based Penske, as of late October, topped the national list of independent tire retailers with 629 outlets. As many as 40 new stores were on the drawing board at that time.
In November, Penske launched Penske Express Auto Service Centers, which it planned to add to Kmart's KExpress convenience-type stores that also feature gasoline service. Penske opened two of its smaller outlets, in Cambridge, Ohio, and Ionia, Mich., in rural areas.
Last year Penske also opened a stand-alone store in Ft. Myers, Fla., the company's first outlet not affiliated with a Kmart location.