By Ken Camp
Buckner Retirement Services announced its intention to seek to affiliate with or acquire Sears Methodist Retirement System. If joined, the combined entities would become the largest not-for-profit senior-living provider in Texas and among the top 20 in the United States, with a combined annual budget of more than $150 million.
The proposed acquisition will allow Buckner “to build on our vision and mission of serving more senior adults,” said Albert Reyes, president and CEO of Buckner International, the retirement system’s parent organization, a global ministry related to the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
“We look forward to entering into negotiations regarding the final terms of a possible transaction, subject to required approvals by our BRS board of trustees and the court system.”
Sears, based in Abilene, Texas, filed a voluntary petition in bankruptcy court June 10 seeking relief under Chapter 11. The private not-for-profit retirement system was founded in 1966 and currently provides senior living for more than 1,500 residents.
Dallas-based Buckner has provided residential services for seniors since 1954 and operates senior-living communities in seven Texas locations, also with more than 1,500 residents.
Charlie Wilson, senior vice president for Buckner Retirement Services, said Sears is recognized among senior-living providers for its strength, history and mission.
“We are excited to explore the affiliation in order to extend our distinctive senior-lifestyle services to a broader base of Texas elders. Sears has strong brand recognition in Texas and complements our mission and culture,” Wilson said.
Sears spokesperson Melody Chatelle said Sears’ leadership is “extremely pleased with the possibility of becoming part of Buckner Retirement Services.” During negotiations with Buckner, she added, Sears will “continue to remain vigilant in our ongoing commitment to quality care, staff support and local community involvement. We appreciate everyone’s ongoing support of our organization during this time of financial transition, and we look forward to a strong future and a continuation of our long-standing history of quality care and services.”
Buckner operates Texas senior-living communities in Austin, Beaumont, Burnet, Dallas, Houston, Longview and San Angelo. An eighth community, Ventana by Buckner in North Dallas, is slated to open in 2018.
Among the Sears communities considered in the negotiations are four continuing-care retirement communities — Wesley Court and Mesa Springs in Abilene, The Craig in Amarillo and Meadow Lake in Tyler. Also under consideration is the management of the Veterans Land Board homes located in El Paso, McAllen and Big Spring.