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Sears Canada: Seven years of decline, and counting


ROB MAGAZINE

Sears two-point uh-oh

Last March, Sears Canada announced a transformation initiative called Sears 2.0. The idea was to cut costs by shrinking and simplifying stores, while reigniting sliding sales by expanding online offerings. In September, the first revamped store was unveiled north of Toronto. Gone are the dividers between departments—in their place is a new, more open and compact layout. Will the relaunch work? Not if the retailer's abysmal track record is anything to go by. The chain has been trying to reinvent itself for years, but its sales and share price keep slumping. The irrational exuberance from the top, however, has never flagged.

February, 2010

"Sears is continuing to make progress in its quest to become Canada's No. 1 retailer." — Dene Rogers, president and CEO (December, 2006–June, 2011)

February, 2011

"The 2010 results were disappointing due to several external factors including increasing household debt, at an all time high, which affects sales in major expense items such as appliances, the effect of a warm fall that impacted apparel and categories such as snow blowers, and continued deep discounting by the industry in general." — Dene Rogers

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February, 2013

"While the revenues and Adjusted EBITDA in 2012 were disappointing, we have said from the outset that our Transformation is a three-year journey." — Calvin McDonald, president and CEO (June, 2011–September, 2013)

October, 2013

"Unlocking the value of assets is one of the three levers we have said we will use as a way to create total value for the Company." —Doug Campbell, president and CEO (September, 2013– October, 2014), announcing plans to sell off four major store leases for $400 million and close the affected stores

January, 2014

"These types of decisions are not made without considerable thought and deliberation. We are planning for the future of Sears Canada and taking steps now that will allow us to continue serving customers as a viable national retailer." —Doug Campbell, announcing the outsourcing of 1,628 call-centre and warehouse jobs

April, 2015

"They took business out of the market when they came. That business, I think, will go back to us and some other people in the business now that they've exited." —Ron Boire, president and CEO (October, 2014–July, 2015), commenting after Sears Canada agreed to acquire Canadian rights for Cherokee Global Brands apparel and Liz Lange maternity clothing from Target

November, 2015

"That's our girl." —Carrie Kirkman, president and chief merchant (November, 2015–July, 2016), discussing how to appeal to one target customer, "Amy," a 35-to-50-year-old mom, and still retain 50-plus "Linda," a more traditional Sears customer

January, 2016

"We've got this network we're going to rationalize and we're going to figure out which stores make the most sense." —Brandon G. Stranzl, executive chairman (July, 2015–present), commenting after Sears Canada hires real estate firm CBRE to search for alternative uses for underperforming stores

August, 2016

"Our new logo asserts the modern and streamlined image and consumer experience for which we are striving in-store and online." —Brandon G. Stranzl, unveiling Sears Canada's first new logo since 1984

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July, 2016

"[Carrie Kirkman] will transition away from her position with the Company and as a Director, but will continue to be available in an advisory capacity to further the Company's brand partner development." —Sears Canada press release announcing new "organizational alignments" of top executives

January, 2017

"We are looking for 180 people to deliver "wow" experiences, create positive emotional connections with our customers, and, in so doing, reinvent and be the stewards of the Sears Canada brand." —Brandon G. Stranzl, announcing a plan to hire workers for two new business services centres in New Brunswick, with financial assistance from the province

Photos: (Boire) Chris Young/CP; (McDonald) Savlatore Sacco/CP; (Rogers) Mike Cassese/Reuters; (Campbell) Aaron Harris/Reuters; (Kirkman) Darren Calabrese; (Stranzl) Darren Calabrese

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