Sears Canada

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Sears Canada Inc.
Formerly called
Simpsons-Sears Limited (1952–1978)
Public (11.7% of common stock owned by Sears Holdings)
Traded as TSXSCC
Industry Retail
Founded 1951 (joint venture of Simpson's and Sears)
Headquarters 290 Yonge Street (Toronto Eaton Centre) Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Key people
Brandon G. Stranzl, Executive Chairman; Becky Penrice, Executive Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer[1]
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewellery, beauty products, appliances, housewares, tools, and electronics.
Revenue $3.146 billion (2015)[2]
-$67.9 million (2015)[2]
Total equity $554.2 million (2015)[2]
Number of employees
17,903 (2016)[3]

Sears Canada is a Canadian chain of department stores headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. The company's roots are in Simpsons-Sears, a joint venture with the Simpsons retail chain and the U.S. Sears chain, which operated a national mail order business, and co-branded Simpsons-Sears stores modelled after the U.S. Sears chain. Following the purchase of Simpsons by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1978, the joint venture was dismantled, and the Simpsons-Sears stores became solely owned by Sears. In 1999, Sears Canada acquired the remaining assets and locations of the historic Canadian chain Eaton's.

Sears Holdings now owns a 11.7% share in the company.[4] The chain operates 95 corporately-owned department stores,[5] and other store formats such as outlet stores, Sears Home, and franchised Sears Hometown stores in smaller markets. Sears has struggled in recent years because of competition from online retailers and other factors. In the early 2010s, Sears Canada sold and closed a number of its retail locations in major markets as part of a gradual downsizing of its business. In 2016, under new CEO Brandon G. Stranzl, Sears unveiled a new logo and store concept meant to return the chain to a "price-focused" strategy, following attempts to shift into an upscale market.

Corporate history[edit]


Simpsons-Sears logo

Sears Canada began its operations as Simpsons-Sears Limited, a catalogue and mid-market suburban retailer, as a joint-venture between the Simpsons Limited (the Robert Simpson Company Limited), a Canadian department store chain, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. of the United States. In 1952, General Robert E. Wood, the Chairman of U.S. retailer Sears, sent a letter to Edgar G. Burton, President of the Robert Simpson Company of Toronto, proposing a partnership between their two companies in order to serve the Canadian market. The deal to create Simpsons-Sears Limited, a Canadian catalogue and department store chain separate from the Simpson's chain, was signed on September 18, 1952 and the terms were 50-50. Each company invested $20 million and had equal representation on the new company's Board of Directors. The new company was to have two main objectives. The first was to expand Simpson's mail order business, which was sold to the new company. The second goal was to build a string of stores modelled on Sears, Roebuck's format across the country.

The agreement also contained a provision that would prove to be a major challenge in later years. Under its terms, Simpsons-Sears could not open a retail store within 25 miles of Simpson's existing stores in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Regina and London. In return, Simpson's promised not to build any stores outside of those five cities. Simpsons-Sears mail order business, however, was free to operate anywhere in Canada as was the new Simpsons-Sears Acceptance Company, the credit arm of the operation.

The business operations of Simpsons-Sears began when the first Simpsons-Sears Spring/Summer Catalogue was printed by Photo-Engravers and Electrotypers, Ltd. and delivered to 300,000 Canadian homes in early 1953.

On September 17, 1953, the first Simpsons-Sears retail store opened in Stratford, Ontario. The second Simpsons-Sears store opened in Kamloops, British Columbia in December of that year. In 1954, Simpsons-Sears opened Canada’s first large suburban department store, in Vancouver – Burnaby, BC, based on new the modern Sears, Roebuck model, spreading across the U.S.

Simpsons-Sears introduced “We Service What We Sell”, in 1955, a slogan backed up by a highly-trained nationwide corps of service technicians. In 1963, Simpsons-Sears opened its first full-line store in Quebec, in Quebec City’s Fleur de Lys complex.

The company made its public debut on the Toronto and Montreal Stock Exchanges on April 5, 1965, with the listing of its Class “A” non-voting shares. That year, Sears began its long-standing partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, to support its youth programming.

In 1968, Simpsons-Sears became the first Canadian retailer to begin buying products from Mainland China.

In 1971, Simpsons-Sears opened a new head office building in downtown Toronto.

In 1972, Simpsons and Simpsons-Sears agreed to end the 25-mile restriction and permit Simpsons and Simpsons-Sears stores anywhere. The following year, when Simpsons-Sears opened a store in the city of Mississauga, approximately 30 km (19 mi) west of Toronto. To avoid confusing customers used to Simpsons, new stores were opened under the "Sears" banner. All existing Simpsons-Sears stores were rebranded to the Sears banner as well. However, the name of the company remained Simpsons-Sears Limited.

Also in 1973, Sears achieved its first billion-dollar sales year.

In 1974, Simpsons-Sears opened a Sears store at Hillcrest Mall in Richmond Hill, Ontario, its first location in a mall that had a Simpsons store.

Store wars[edit]

In 1978, Simpsons and Simpsons-Sears put forward a plan to merge their businesses. This plan had to have approval of the Foreign Investment Review Agency, as Sears, Roebuck would become the prime shareholder. Before approval could be attained, the Hudson’s Bay Company made a counter bid and acquired Simpsons Limited. Simpsons’ shares in Simpsons-Sears taken over by The Bay were eventually sold back to Sears, Roebuck. The company was renamed Sears Canada Inc. in 1984 to reflect its independence.

The Sears store in Fairview Mall, Toronto, one of the stores acquired from Simpsons in 1991.

The paths of Hudson’s Bay and Sears crossed again in 1991. The Hudson's Bay Company merged its remaining Greater Toronto Simpsons stores into its The Bay division in 1991, and the Simpsons name disappeared from Canada's retail landscape. As a result of this move, Sears Canada took over eight former Simpson's and Bay stores and finally gained a major foothold in Greater Toronto, a market from which it had been been excluded by the 1952 agreement with Simpsons. These new stores featured a new 60:40 fashions: hardlines mix and introduced new boutique shop arrangements and fashion lines, such as Le Chateau, Sung and Rouie.

Sears announced "The Store of the Future" in 1983. It represented a complete transformation and remodelling of stores along a new product-focused and customer-friendly merchandising program. The first remodelled store, in Mississauga, Ontario, was unveiled in 1985. Stores would be fully retrofitted over the following three years.

The Sears Catalogue Club points program began in 1986. The next year, it chaged to "Sears Club" to incorporate all the company's trading channels.

New Retail Store Formats and[edit]

A Sears Home location in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Interior of Eatons Pacific Centre store, a former T. Eaton Co. (Eaton's) location.
Sears mascot for the Great Canadian Chill, a polar bear dip to raise money for children's cancer charities, Ottawa, Ontario.
A Sears outlet store at The Shops on Steeles and 404 in Thornhill, Ontario.

In 1971, adjacent to its new Kenmore Catalogue Service Centre in Toronto, Simpsons-Sears opened its first new concept Clearance Centre, to assist in the rotation of its off-season and marked down catalogue merchandise. The concept was eventually expanded nationwide, offering consumers an off-priced selection of in-house and brand name products. In the 2000’s, these stores were rebranded as Outlet Stores to reflect a broader assortment as well as channel-specific merchandise. Sears full-line stores in some markets were converted to this format in 2014. As of Fall 2016, Sears Canada operated 17 outlet locations.

In 1994, Sears Canada opened its first Hometown Dealer Store in Pembroke, Ontario. The Hometown Stores. were designed to serve smaller-sized markets and bring a displayed selection of big ticket merchandise, along with the convenience of a local Catalogue counter, to consumers not near larger Sears stores nor other large retail firms. Stores of this format are operated predominantly in partnership with local community franchisers.

In 1995, Sears Canada launched a chain of specialty stores called Sears Whole Home in order to better showcase its home decor offerings. Furniture stores were located in power centres. they were rebranded Sears Furniture and Appliances stores in 1999, to reflect the addition of major appliances. In 2003, the Furniture and Appliances stores were renamed Sears Home stores. This change was intended to reflect their broader appeal for customers seeking a one-stop experience for re-making their home decor. The stores' product line was expanded to include Home Installed Products and Services such as floor coverings, customer drapery, and other installed home related products in many locations.

In 1998, Sears Canada's website,, became an active channel, allowing customers to order from a selection of over 500 products. By 2001, the website became Canada's most popular retail internet destination with over a million orders placed that year.[citation needed]


In 1999, Sears Canada acquired the assets and the trademark name of the bankrupt chain, The T. Eaton Company Limited. For the first time in its history, Sears Canada gained the leases to a number of prime downtown locations in Toronto (Eaton Centre), Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Calgary, all former Eaton's flagship stores. The Simpsons-Sears agreement had largely shut out Sears from the urban core, and that remained so even when the restriction was lifted, as The Bay and Eaton's long held a duopoly in the downtowns of major Canadian cities. Sears Canada had also entertained notions of obtaining the former Eaton downtown Montreal store but that location was eventually occupied by Quebec retailer Les Ailes de la Mode.

Sears relaunched "Eatons" (rendered with the lowercase "e" logo) in November 2000 as a seven-store upscale mini-brand, with locations in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto (Eaton Centre and Yorkdale) and Ottawa, all of which had been flagship Eaton stores. At Yorkdale, this meant that Sears Canada managed two anchor stores (Eatons and Sears) in that mall for a short time. This operation was unsuccessful, however, and Sears converted the Eatons stores to the Sears brand in 2002. Many said[who?] that the Eatons stores were too upscale and/or too thinly scattered across the country for the mini-chain to have ever been profitable and worthwhile. The retail environment has changed with more of the population shopping at big box outlets and specialty stores squeezing out the middle market which is the base of the traditional department store.[6]

21st Century changes[edit]

On August 26, 2004, the contract of Sears Canada Chairman and CEO Mark A. Cohen was terminated and he was replaced by Brent Hollister. Cohen had been President of Softlines and Chief Marketing Officer of the U.S. parent Sears.

Sears Canada's previous logo. Used From 2004-2016

In 2005, Sears Card financial services was outsourced to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Sears receivrd C$3 billion for the sale, and the Sears Club points system was retained by the retailer. Sears also paid a special dividend upon the completion of the transaction. CEO Brent Hollister said that the move would allow Sears to refocus on its retail operations. Sears Canada announced it would end its credit card partnership with JPMorgan Chase when the agreement expires in November 2015.[7]

Privatization attempt by parent[edit]

In January 2006, Sears Holdings Inc., the parent company and majority shareholder of Sears Canada Inc. made a bid to purchase the remaining shares to take the company private. Some members of the board opposed the move.

A ruling by the Ontario Securities Commission, made in August 2006, stalled progress the attempted privatization by its parent company, Sears Holdings Limited.[8] While the ruling did not dispel the future possibility of the privatization of Sears Canada, it posed a significant obstacle by ruling three major shareholding blocks ineligible to vote as the blocks were given extraordinary privileges by Sears Holdings Limited.[9]

On November 14, 2006 Sears Holdings' move to privatize Sears Canada at a bid of $17.97/share fell through by voting amongst the minority shareholder groups.[10]


On March 31, 2005, the majority ownership stake was transferred to Sears Holdings, which then owned 73.1% of Sears Canada common shares, while Pershing Square Capital held 17.3%, and the remainder of the shares were publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.[11]

On September 26, 2007, Sears Canada announced the sale of its 222 Jarvis Street headquarters to the Government of Ontario. The company relocated its head office to surplus space at its flagship store in the Toronto Eaton Centre.

In 2010 same-store sales were down 4% compared to 6.8% in 2009.[2][12] In December 2011, after slow sales in the holiday season, it laid off 70 employees from its head office after losing nearly $47 million in the previous quarter.[13]

In June 2011 Calvin McDonald became CEO and president of Sears Canada Inc. after an 18-year career with Loblaws.

In 2012, Sears Canada sold three stores in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa back to Cadillac Fairview (the owner of the malls in which the stores were located) for $170 million.[4] A second, smaller Sears location in Calgary was also closed.

In 2012, Sears, Roebuck distributed a large number of its Sears Canada shares to its own shareholders, reducing its holdings from 96% to about 51%. Sears Holdings Corporation's Chairman and CEO, Edward Lampert, has a 27% stake in Sears Canada.[4]

In May 2013, CBC News, as part of an ongoing investigation of the hiring of temporary foreign workers in Canada and the unemployment issues faced by Canadians, reported that Sears had laid off information technology staff and outsourced operations.[14]

In June 2013, Sears announced that it had sold leases at the Yorkdale at Square One malls back to the landlord for $191 million. Sears was to close the locations by April 2014. Sears sold an option on another location at Scarborough Town Centre mall to give the landlord an offer to buy back its lease for $53 million.[15]

In September 2013, Calvin Macdonald was replaced as CEO by Douglas C. Campbell, Sears Canada's COO.[16]

On October 29, 2013, Sears Canada announced the closure of five stores, including the flagship Toronto Eaton Centre location, Markville Shopping Centre (Markham, Ontario - 2015), Sherway Gardens (Toronto 2014), Masonville Place (London, Ontario - 2014) and Richmond Centre (Richmond, BC - 2015).[17] The closure resulted in 965 employees being laid off, with some offered positions elsewhere.[17] Sears Canada's head office remains at the Eaton Centre.[18]

On November 26, 2013, reports indicated Sears Canada would lay off 800 staff across the Canadian operations (including head office and service department areas[19]) as part of its plan to reduce costs.[20]

In late 2013, SHS Services Management Inc., a Markham, Ontario-based contract partner, went into receivership, but Sears Canada promised to honour warranty through services offered by SHS on behalf of Sears Canada.[21]

On January 15, 2014, Sears Canada announced the layoffs of more than 1,600 employees, primaeily including employees of call centres and warehouss.[22]

Campbell left Sears Canada in October 2014 and was replaced by Ronald Boire, who served until June 2015. Brandon Stranzl was appointed Executive Chairman in July 2015, continuing in his role as chairman of the board and also assuming the duties of the CEO. In November 2015, Carrie Kirkman was appointed President and Chief Merchant, a role she held until July 2016.[23]


On August 24, 2016, Sears Canada unveiled a new corporate logo, replacing the blue striped wordmark that had been used by its U.S. counterpart. The new logo consists of a black wordmark and a red stencil of a maple leaf. Executive chairman Brandon Stranzl stated that the new logo "asserts the modern and streamlined image and consumer experience for which we are striving in-store and online."[24]

In September 2016, Sears unveiled a new store concept at its locations at CF Promenade in Toronto Mapleview Mall in Burlington, codenamed "Sears 2.0". The new format has a reduced reliance on permament fixtures and departments, allowing product displays to be manipulated as needed, and giving the stores an open atmosphere with fewer walls and partitions. The footwear department was moved to the centre of the store and switched to a "self-serve" concept, with product boxes accessible by customers (thus reducing the need for dedicated associates). Stranzl stated that the new format was meant to "take ideas from the best in the business, whether it's in shoes, outerwear or appliances", and return the chain to a "price-focused" strategy.[25][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Company Profile for Sears Canada Inc (TSE;SCC)". Retrieved January 24, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c National Post', ', "Are Sears Canada’s days numbered? Poor results could have U.S. retailers circling soon", 8 January 2013
  5. ^ a b "Sears Canada tries a new store format". Toronto Star. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  6. ^ A National Institution: The Eaton's Chronology The Globe and Mail. February 19, 2002 (table reprinted by Western Libraries)
  7. ^
  8. ^ "OSC stalls Sears buyout". CBC News. August 8, 2006. Retrieved January 6, 2007. 
  9. ^ McFarland, Janet; Strauss, Marina (September 8, 2006). "Sears Holdings smacked by OSC ruling". Globe and Mail Update. Retrieved January 6, 2006. 
  10. ^ Shaw, Hollie (November 15, 2006). "Shareholders block privatization of Sears Canada". Financial Post. Retrieved January 6, 2007. 
  11. ^ "Sears Canada pourrait-elle être bientôt vendue?". Canoe. Retrieved April 13, 2009. 
  12. ^ Sears faces uncertain future in Canada: analyst | CTV News
  13. ^ Sears faces uncertain future in Canada: analyst | CTV News
  14. ^ "Canadian on EI shut out amid foreign worker influx - British Columbia - CBC News". May 20, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  15. ^ Marina Strauss (June 14, 2013). "Struggling Sears divests key Canadian leases". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Sears Canada replaces CEO with chief operating officer - Business - CBC News". September 24, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "Sears Canada to close Eaton Centre store and 4 others in $400M lease sale". 680News. May 31, 2010. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Sears Canada to close Toronto Eaton Centre store, four others; will Nordstrom move in? | Toronto Star". October 29, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Sears Canada to lay off almost 800 people | Toronto Star". November 26, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Sears Canada to cut nearly 800 staff in repair parts and service". Rogers Media. November 26, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  21. ^ Canadian, The (December 14, 2013). "More trouble for Sears: 640 jobs lost as company ally goes into receivership - Yahoo Finance Canada". Yahoo! Canada Finance. Yahoo!. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Sears Canada to cut 1,600 call centre, warehouse jobs", 16 January 2014
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Sears Canada's new logo 'bold, confident' and not blue-and-white". Financial Post. Retrieved 25 September 2016. 
  25. ^ "Sears Canada unveils a new store format as it tries to turnaround sliding sales". Financial Post. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 

External links[edit]