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Sears Holdings Corp., the 125-year-old retailer known for its Kenmore and DieHard brands, collapsed into bankruptcy under pressure from too much debt and too few shoppers.

The company filed for protection from creditors with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. Chief Executive Officer Eddie Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc., held about $2.5 billion in Sears debt as of September, the result of multiple attempts to keep the chain afloat.

The department-store chain once ranked as the biggest U.S. retailer, with a reputation built on its money-back guarantee of customer satisfaction. But it wasn't able to keep up with shifting consumer habits as online rivals siphoned off shoppers, and turnaround efforts were hobbled by mountains of debt. Since 2012, losses have topped $10 billion.

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