Troubled retail giant Kmart Corp on Tuesday announced plans to axe hundreds more stores and 37,000 jobs as it looks to emerge from bankruptcy protection by the end of April.

The Michigan-based company said it will close a further 326 stores and a distribution centre to add to the 283 outlets and 22,000 jobs it cut last year after filing for Chapter 11 with huge debts last January.

The latest round of cuts - which will see it shut 266 Kmart and Big Kmart stores, 60 Kmart SuperCentres in 44 states and Puerto Rico and one of its 18 distribution centres - came as Kmart reported net income of $349 million on net sales of $4.7 billion for the five weeks to January 1.

Chairman and CEO James Adamson said: "We deeply regret the impact these closings will have on our associates, customers and the communities where the stores are located.

"This was a difficult and painful decision, particularly in light of its impact on thousands of dedicated associates who have worked so hard to help the company. But this is a necessary and important step for Kmart as we prepare for our imminent emergence from Chapter 11 protection."

He added: "I am extremely proud of the progress that Kmart has made over the past year with the support of our associates, vendors, creditors and customers.

"The company will emerge from its reorganisation cases with a much stronger balance sheet, liquidity position and cost structure. Now that we have accomplished all that we can through the Chapter 11 process, we look forward to putting the considerable costs and distractions of bankruptcy behind us and focusing our full time and attention on revitalising Kmart."

Following the latest closures, Kmart will be left with more than 1,500 stores.