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Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

Sears Canada Inc. tumbled to a loss in the third quarter as its sales weakened in the back-to-school season.

The company posted a net loss of $46.6-million in the three months ended Oct. 30, down from a profit of $20.8-million a year ago. On a per-share basis, losses were 44 cents compared to a profit of 19 cents.

Same-store sales fell 7.8 per cent over the same period last year.

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"We are not pleased with our results this quarter and have significant work ahead of us," said Sears president and CEO Calvin McDonald in a statement that was similar to comments made in recent quarters.

"The Sears Canada leadership team, with the support of all associates, is committed to making major improvements and has begun to implement new initiatives that are intended to lead the Company to reach its full potential."

Sears Canada's revenue was off 7.1 per cent to $1.11-billion from $1.2-billion.

The retailer has been struggling to overcome lagging sales in recent quarters as more consumers opt to spend their money elsewhere, and retailers ramp up competition ahead of the entry of newcomer Target Corp. into the Canadian marketplace.

Sears Canada has 196 corporate stores, 280 hometown dealer stores and 1,700 catalogue merchandise pick-up locations across Canada.

The company, 92 per cent owned by U.S. retail giant Sears Holdings Corp., also operates 108 Sears Travel offices and a country-wide home maintenance, repair, and installation network.

Sears Canada had more than 31,000 employees at the end of 2010.

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