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Tears for Sears: The rise and decline of a Canadian retail giant

FILE PHOTO
Image Credit: AP Photo/LM Otero
June 22, 2017 - 10:15 AM

TORONTO - For decades, Sears was a quintessential part of the Canadian shopping experience. Its catalogues adorned coffee tables and its Kenmore-branded appliances were staples in homes for generations.

But like Eaton's and Simpsons before it, Sears has encountered a litany of problems.

Here's a look at the history of Sears Canada:

1952 — Simpsons-Sears is founded as a national mail-order business, as part of a partnership between the Robert Simpson Company of Toronto and Sears Roebuck Co. of Chicago.

September 1953 — Simpsons-Sears opens its first store in Stratford, Ont.

1973 — The company opens its first store under the Sears banner.

1978 — Hudson's Bay Company acquires the Simpson Company. The Simpsons-Sears partnership dissolves.

1984 — The company formally changes its name to Sears Canada.

1995 — Sears opens its first Sears Whole Home furniture store; later renames the store Sears Home.

1998 — The company launches its e-commerce website, becoming one of the first retailers to do so in Canada.

1999 — Sears buys the bankrupt chain, The T. Eaton Company Ltd., including all of the flagship department stores in coveted locations like the Toronto Eaton Centre.

February 2009 — Sears cuts 300 jobs, less than one per cent of its workforce at the time, to prepare for a "tough'' year in retail.

June 2011 — Calvin McDonald is named president and CEO of Sears Canada and embarks on a three-year turnaround plan as sales decline and thousands of jobs are cut.

2012 — Sears begins selling off leases to its stores in prime locations.

September 2013 — McDonald abruptly steps down as president and CEO. Former U.S. naval aviator and retail consultant Douglas C. Campbell takes over as CEO.

May 2014 — U.S. parent company Sears Holdings Corp. hints that it's looking to sell the ailing retailer.

September 2014 — Campbell steps down as CEO.

October 2014 — Ronald Boire steps in as interim CEO.

July 2015 — Boire steps down as CEO. Brandon Stranzl is named executive chairman of Sears Canada.

November 2015 — Carrie Kirkman becomes Sears Canada president.

July 2016 — Kirkman leaves the role.

August 2016 — Sears Canada rebrands logo for the first time in 32 years by adding a maple leaf.

December 2016 — The retailer announces plans to venture into the grocery business, saying its signed partnerships with two specialty supermarket operators to run food markets at some of its revamped locations.

January 2017 — New Brunswick government gives Sears Canada $8.7 million to open business centres in Edmundston and Saint John. The centres are expected to create 540 new jobs in total.

June 13, 2017 — Faced with a cash crunch that's getting worse, the company announces it is exploring strategic alternatives including a sale.

June 22, 2017 — Sears Canada is granted court protection from creditors. It announces plans to close 59 locations across the country and cut approximately 2,900 jobs under a court-supervised restructuring.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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