The company is shutting down dozens of Kmart stores this month and two of its highest-ranking executives left this week in the midst of the key holiday shopping season.
This comes following speculation among Sears and Kmart employees, suppliers, and several banks that the retailer will soon go bankrupt — something Sears has repeatedly dismissed.
Jeff Balagna, formerly Sears' executive vice president, left the company Wednesday, "in order to focus on his other business interests and pursue other career opportunities," Sears said in an SEC filing dated November 23.
Balagna did not respond to a request for comment. Sears declined to comment beyond what was stated in the filing.
Sears President and Chief Member Officer Joelle Maher also left the company this week, Sears confirmed to Business Insider. The company declined to give a reason for her departure.
The timing of the departures — so close to Sears' upcoming third-quarter earnings report and in the middle of the holiday season — is "highly unusual," according to Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School and the former CEO of Sears Canada.
Cohen, who was fired from Sears in 2004, is an outspoken critic of the company and its CEO Eddie Lampert. He speculated that the timing of the departures could be indicative of something "catastrophic" in its upcoming earnings report.