It’s Over for Sears Canada

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Brick and mortar meltdown.

Sears Canada hired the same leading bankruptcy advisory firm on June 12 that had represented Target Canada in its insolvency proceedings. Ten days later, it filed for bankruptcy protection to restructure its capital and its operations, shutter dozens of its 225 stores and lay off nearly 3,000 employees, but planned to continue operating. Today it said that the restructuring efforts failed, and that it would seek court approval to liquidate, shutting all its remaining stores and laying off its remaining 12,000 employees.

Retailers are notoriously difficult to restructure. Once they’re this deep in trouble, after years of losses, they own few assets and are burdened with debts, as everything has been sold or pledged to creditors. Their suppliers, who’ve been burned too many times, are getting skittish. Lenders are getting desperate. And acquirers can be impossible to find. Most retailer bankruptcies start out as restructurings but end as liquidations.

To stay alive while losing money for years, Sears Canada has sold off most of its real estate holdings, and the most valuable assets are already gone. What’s left are C$1.1 billion ($880 million) in liabilities.

“The company deeply regrets this pending outcome and the resulting loss of jobs and store closures,” the company said in the statement.

Pending court approval to begin the liquidation process, Sears Canada said that it would kick off liquidation sales at its stores as soon as October 19 and continue through the holiday selling period.

In the bankruptcy filing in June, the company spoke of its “reinvention” and its “brand reinvention,” how it “rebooted its customer experience and service standards,” and how its “newly designed site built in-house by a new technology team” and some other factors would make this restructuring work.

Today it said in a letter to employees that the liquidation is “a reflection on the state of the retail market today.”

Sears Canada was partially spun off in 2012 from similarly struggling Sears Holdings in the US, which still holds a 12% stake, and whose CEO Eddie Lampert — a hedge fund manager — owns a 45% stake in part via his hedge fund, ESL Investments.

In June, after it was granted court protection, the company received the court’s permission to try to find a buyer. Executive chairman Brandon Stranzl, backed by private equity firm Blackstone Group, tried to put together an offer, pledging to keep the company operating.



But Sears Canada said today that “following exhaustive efforts, no viable transaction for the Company to continue as a going concern was received.” This confirmed weeks of speculation that those efforts were doomed.

On October 4, Sears Canada asked the court for, and obtained, an extension of its creditor protection until November. 7. During the hearing, the lawyer for the retailer’s court-appointed monitor, FTI Consulting Canada, told the court that the company was assessing a revised bid by Stranzl, but was running out of time and money to decide. CBC News:

A lawyer for the lenders argued that if a proposal to buy the business as a going concern does not materialize, it is key to liquidate before the Christmas season is over to maximize the value the process can attain.

Hence the rush by the creditors to get the liquidation started.

Then there are the pension obligations for its 6,000 retirees and 12,000 beneficiaries. The plan has a deficit of C$266.8 million. A motion was filed in August to wind up the plan. It would require the company to pay the full C$266.8 million to the plan, which the company doesn’t have. The motion adds:

The wind up also gives rise to a payment into the plan by the Ontario Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (“PBGF”) that would help offset the underfunding in the plan and minimize pension benefit reductions.

The motion has been postponed until at least November 30. And that’s how the once largest retailer in Canada becomes another entity in the brick-and-mortar retail meltdown, its remains getting picked through in bankruptcy court.

Liquidation too for Toys “R” Us? The company filed for bankruptcy in the US and Canada to restructure, but it can’t solve what’s killing it. Read…  The Fate of Toys “R” Us after Bankruptcy?




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  70 comments for “It’s Over for Sears Canada

  1. Gershon
    Oct 10, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Meanwhile, our Fed-juiced Ponzi markets are hitting new highs of irrational exuberance, while the productive economy deteriorates.

    • Haus-Targaryen
      Oct 11, 2017 at 2:46 am

      In order to respect Wolf’s new comment guidelines, I’ll allow my previous post on Sears’ issues do most of the talking, however I’ll repeat it briefly here:

      What killed Sears was its clientele; swapping out wealthy middle class and upper-middle class shoppers and employees for poor ones in specific demographic sub-segments of American and Canadian societies was what killed Sears.

      There are plenty of retail chains which will be around for the foreseeable future as they maintain their middle class+ clientele and the employees that can “speak their language”.

      Read into this what you will.

      • Cashboy
        Oct 11, 2017 at 3:43 am

        I shall tell you waht I see in the UK which leads the European trend.
        UK retail is dying. The shopping centres are now mainly charity shops and fast food shops and a lot of empty shops.
        Amazon and Wish are wiping out the shops and all you see in housing estates are self employed courier vans delivering goods from online sales. People still seem to go to the shopping malls but looking at the bags they carry, not actually purchasing much.

        • Frederick
          Oct 11, 2017 at 2:52 pm

          They go for the ambiance and perhaps a coffee in my experience and go home and buy online Retail is toast

      • Petunia
        Oct 11, 2017 at 8:19 am

        I still browse in the nicer shops in town and quality is a huge issue. The upscale boutiques carry a lot of expensive junk, and it’s not their fault, that is what the manufacturers make. The $200 flip flops are the same as the $30 flip flops except for the logos. None of this stuff is worth the money anymore, the quality is not there, and the designs are inferior. It’s not everything, but most things.

        I recently took an old pair of sandals to be re-heeled. The lady at the shoe repair shop said somebody saw the sandals and wanted to buy them. I’m not surprised, it would probably cost $1K to replace the quality and design of the sandals today.

        • Kent
          Oct 11, 2017 at 8:55 am

          Couldn’t agree more. In the day, I would buy high quality shoes. $300 Brooks Brothers wingtips in 1992. They would last for 10 years and I’d have them re-soled as needed. I can’t find shoes that are made like that anymore at any price. Even at Brooks Brothers. And now they sell Chinese shoes for $600.

        • d
          Oct 11, 2017 at 3:21 pm

          You get those shoes “Hand made ” in the Philippines, and they don’t cost 300.00 either.

          Catch being you need to fin your Shoemaker/ Dressmaker/Tailor, first.

          They sell chinese crap in the stores in America. With huge margin s on it. (once they have destroyed the local manufactures)

          Because stupid Americans buy it and think its cheap.

      • Mary
        Oct 11, 2017 at 10:09 am

        Huh? Do you really mean that any and all retailers should carry merchandise so expensive that only the wealthy would shop there? So Walmart and Target should morph into competitors for Bergdorf Goodman? Kia dealerships should switch to Bentleys?

        Or are you actually speaking in code? Correct me if I’m wrong, but when you say “middle class+ clientele and employees that can ‘speak their language'” do you mean white people only? If Sears had just practiced open racial discrimination its prospects would be rosier?

        • NIck
          Oct 11, 2017 at 2:16 pm

          No, what they mean is what they said……quality has gone down while costs have either stagnated or gone up. The quality of outdoor goods like sleeping bags, tents, hiking boots have gone down considerably. Where goose down, wool used to dominate the market and at affordable prices you now see a preponderance of cheap synthetics like polyester, laminates, etc. High technology stuff that doesn’t last nor really old up to harsh elements unless you’re an urbanite riding your bike in the rain to Starbucks.

          Danner boots, Filson, etc. to name a few that used to put out amazing quality clothes. Yes very expensive but not hardly for the rich. Now Filson still makes some nice stuff but the prices have crept up. But dropping $300 on a 100% wool sweater that will literally last a lifetime is not a bad investment in my opinion. The problem is people are addicted to variety and newness. So the market caters to this conspicuous consumption and we are left with a throw it away and get a new one economy. Cars, clothes, electronics, tools. Everything nowadays.

          Patagonia is a great example. They used to use a lot of down and natural fiber material decades ago. They were a very niche outdoor clothing producer. The last 10 years they have gone the way of North Face. For the most part overpriced crap. Recycled soda bottle fleece for $180? LOL….Millennial outdoor urban wannabes or yuppies have ruined the brand. But Patagonia keeps catering to this market.

          What the hell does race or discrimination have to do with quality? *face palm*

      • tony
        Oct 11, 2017 at 10:55 am

        This is going on across america we are a third world country.

      • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
        Oct 12, 2017 at 3:18 am

        Shopping at Sears used to be about the most middle-class thing you could do. Your kitchen appliances were Kenmore, your kid for a Silvertone guitar for Xmas, when you shopped for sheets you looked for Sears’ Best. Meanwhile Dad was out using his Craftsman tools to work on the car, which he rolled under on his Balkamp creeper. The guy up the street was a hobby beekeeper, and guess where he got all his bee stuff? Out of the Sears rural/farm catalog.

        Source: life in the early 70s

    • fajensen
      Oct 12, 2017 at 11:49 am

      The algorithms have it figured: http://www.allakonkurser.se/info/102-addkonkurs/ – site advertising how abundantly good deals one can make with bankruptcy auctions :)

  2. NoRush
    Oct 10, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Sears Canada buyer walked into our showroom in February and told me they were going to reverse their merchandising direction to focus on the top end of the market. I asked her if she knew how difficult to impossible that transition would be in reality to achieve in the short timeline she outlined. I wished her luck and declined…..

    • Haus-Targaryen
      Oct 11, 2017 at 2:50 am

      This is what Sears needs to do, but I am afraid its far too late.

      Here in Germany, there is a chain called Manufactum (google it) and their strategy is very simple: carry a wide assortments of goods from light bulbs to gardening hoses and from perfume to jelly — but cost and price is irrelevant and only the very absolute 100% top-of-the-line products make it to the showroom.

      Place stores in the wealthiest parts of town with excellent customer service filled with people from the area (e.g., other wealthy, typically old people in retirement wanting something to do).

      This SHOULD have been Sears’ strategy — but the time for this reversal was ten years ago. Perhaps someone will buy the name and give it a go after liquidation, but as it is — this is a non-starter.

      • Al Loco
        Oct 11, 2017 at 7:04 am

        You are onto something here. In the north suburbs of Chicago there is a family owned store called Abt. They started out as a small appliance store but has grown into a power house selling high end kitchens, home theaters, watches, etc. Basically everything Sears does except clothes and lawn equipment.

        The place is packed all the time. The sales people are informed and not pushy. If you are smart enough to ask they will match online price or even beat it to offset tax. It’s possible to compete against amazon but you can’t expect to be successful by having Presidents day sales and dopey sales reps.

        • Kent
          Oct 11, 2017 at 8:58 am

          But you can’t pay for high quality employees and have the hedge fund/PE owner of your company load it up with massive amounts of debt at the same time. It’s just not financially sustainable.

        • Bobby
          Oct 11, 2017 at 10:19 am

          I suspect Sears main demographic was mostly older people, that most likely would never pay for high end merchandise. They would have had to re-brand their name. Personally I will miss their lawnmowers..

        • IdahoPotato
          Oct 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm

          I used to buy clothes at Sears. Sears used to sell Land’s End merchandise when Land’s End used to still sell good merchandise. Then they switched to “Kardashian Collection”.

          It went quickly downhill from there.

          As for appliances, there’s a world of difference between the sales reps at Sears and Lowe’s . The latter are more informed and less pushy.

      • Mike
        Oct 11, 2017 at 7:19 am

        It was their strategy but they left it . They went from Department store to a Fashion store, just selling clothes etc. This like Eatons before them was the beginning of the end.

        • Mike G
          Oct 11, 2017 at 2:32 pm

          The perpetual temptation in business is to assert that The Brand is everything, that you can cheapen-out the product and your customers will keep on buying while you get rich on the cost reduction. It can work for a certain amount of time, but not forever; and once your customers wake up to it, they’re usually gone for good.

      • stan barber
        Oct 11, 2017 at 2:01 pm

        yes but with £1,000 a coat or a £600 a jacket (freshly googled), the good old “manufactum” would exclude say 75 % of population of London and the entire remainder of UK from their customer base. Can’t see it being much more different in Germany or Lithuania or Tanganyika.

        it is the wholesale expropriation of resources of the bottom 99% that is destroying the social foundation of whole economy, starting with poorest but dragging the middle and upper-want-to-be-more-than-just-middle-class customers down in the process.

        as the parabolic curve that describes the wealth accumulation of top 0.1% steepens (new word?), less and less hopefuls are being pulled up into its vortex, leaving a massive and growing morass of money starved populus chasing an economic model which is by now and by some generations totally unreachable by 99% of people on this planet.

      • RagnarD
        Oct 11, 2017 at 10:07 pm

        Maybe someone should do that , but Sears?!

        I can see that strategy working in some wealthy neighborhoods but Sears was as middle class as u could get, no?

        Your idea is to sell top quality products that will last,, old-school type stuff. But the fact is the big % of the publics just getting by.

        Remember markets rule, the price has to clear. Back in the day that garden hose, the high-quality one, that was actually also the cheap one. Today it’s really really expensive relative to the cheap one.

  3. d
    Oct 10, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    “Eddie Lampert — a hedge fund manager — owns a 45% stake in part via his hedge fund, ESL Investments.’

    Neither of them pay any real tax any way, however these losses carried forward will make that easier, for longer.

  4. Mike G
    Oct 10, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    At least this will be great news for its competitor Target Cana…never mind.

  5. Nick Kelly
    Oct 10, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    In my city, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, we have a mostly empty mall with two anchors at each end. They were Target and Sears two years ago, then Target Canada went bust. So down to one. Then Lowe’s opened where Target had been. Back to two.

    One funny (kind of) harbinger of things to come. The doors from the mall to Lowe’s stayed shut for months after it opened. At first I thought Lowe’s was being snotty: ‘we are building supplies, we don’t want T-shirt mall rats in here’ Or something.
    The real reason was just as bizarre. These doors were power operated and they didn’t work when Lowe’s came in. (Lowe’s had its own entrance.)
    So a dispute between the mall and Lowe’s about who should fix them kept the doors closed for two months.
    High rollers eh?
    So far, Home Depot (2 miles away) is more than holding its own against Lowe’s. (HD cleaned the clock of Rona, a Canadian competitor. The Rona in town was a franchise. but Rona had to take it back. It’s much smaller and the wood is stored outside. In HD you can browse 2×4’s inside, and winter is coming.)

    And with Sears gone, mall is back to one anchor.

    This mall could be a goner.

    • Paulo
      Oct 11, 2017 at 8:54 am

      What killed Sears is ‘failure of adaptation’. They were an awesome catalogue store for decades. They also tried to be a department store major player, while the catalogue sales marched on and lured people in to the outlets explore their offerings while they picked up their orders. With the rise of online and Amazon what did Sears do? Why discontinue the catalogue, of course.

      Meanwhile, people continue to use catalogue shopping in digital form. Sears Canada tried to compete against brick and mortar sites like Ikea/The Brick for furniture and appliances. They followed HBC into the toilet along with Zellers, K Mart, Target, etc. It is a common refrain.

      I am a retired builder. I am currently building a rental for myself. I am still using a few Craftsman hand tools I purchased from Sears 45 years ago. But replacement?, new tool sources like Home Depot/Home Hardware have squeezed out speciality tool stores like KMS, etc. The problem with this is that serious tool users and buyers don’t want the low-end crap currently available at Home Depot, Canadian Tire, etc. Guess where we now purchase tools? Online, the world of digital catalogue sales with available user reviews.

      I was in Home Depot the other day. I needed about 6 plumbing fittings and could use a new pex crimping tool. They had one fitting in stock and the crimper was crap. On the way out without buying anything I said hello to a female sales staff member (19 year old art student) who I knew. Do you think she could explain crimping tools? Do you think the tatooed kid stocking the isle would know what I was looking for? No, and to the plumbing wholesaler across town, thanks for being there. Now, you are my first stop.

      Tools? I just buy my tools online now. If I want specialty quality tools and/or hardware I use Lee valley Tools during their free shipping months. If I need general stuff usually Amazon Canada works well, just like Sears used to do with their catalogue. If I am not in a hurry I get a local Mill & Lumber store to order stuff in, (Windsor Mill Sales). This last year I bought $5,000 worth of power tools, online. Not too many years ago I would have used Sears a first stop, and the catalogue to compare prices.

      People want quality products and service. People need and DESERVE to be able to talk with knowledgeable sales staff about the pros and cons of different offerings, and not with some kid who just couldn’t find a job somewhere else. Sears just did what every other dept. store company seems to be doing these days, fill the empty spots with universal mass-produced junk and hire the cheapest staff possible who may or may not be there in 6 months.

      • Bobber
        Oct 11, 2017 at 10:59 am

        Harbor Freight works seems like a good shop for tools. Low prices. Decent tools for the weekend mechanic. They seem to be growing fast. I know everything they sell is made in China.

        • Oct 11, 2017 at 12:09 pm

          Harbor Freight is your one stop shop for cheap, disposable, Chinese crap. If it accomplishes the job and then breaks, you got your money’s worth.

      • jd
        Oct 11, 2017 at 12:04 pm

        All true, Paulo. The future for SEARS was on the wall when they sold out CRAFTSMAN tools commenced to being manufactured in China.
        :-(

      • Coaster Noster
        Oct 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        Good long story, and while I don’t own rentals or shop tools and supplies as a business, I agree that Sears tools from forty-five years ago are still more coveted than the stuff from China. My Sears router stopped working, but I took it apart and fixed the switch myself. Cast aluminum body, not plastic!
        Look at Harbor Freight, out here in California. They stocked crappy junk, still do, but customer reviews kill the sales of junk, and boost the newer, better quality stuff. Sales help inside stores is getting better. More locations, and online as well.

      • RagnarD
        Oct 11, 2017 at 10:17 pm

        Great point
        Sears got head faked, followed a current trend and then lost their mail order franchise to amazon when they were amazon a 100 years before amazon existed. Amazonzing!

        • d
          Oct 12, 2017 at 1:12 am

          “and then lost their mail order franchise to amazon when they were amazon a 100 years before amazon existed. Amazonzing!’

          thats it in a nutshell.

          I still can comprehend how they could let that happen.

          Amazon runs on the modern incarnation of their old business model, and makes money at it.

          The new model makes it easy to stock a 3 and a 23 $ hammer/Whatever. The freight is the same, the customer can chose the throw away, or the tool for life, and pay accordingly.

          IF I was Amzon I would list both side by side, and Visibly quality grade them.

          Then I get “Both classes” of customer.

      • Nick
        Oct 12, 2017 at 8:34 am

        LOL And there it is folks……….$5000 worth of power tools in a year! NOBODY has that kind of money except you retired folks living off Medicare/SS/Record stocks/record home prices. I can barely afford $1400 a month in childcare. Got kids? How much was childcare when you were my age? You old codgers have it easy……..must be nice to be able to drop $5000 a year on new shiny power tools. You older generations have NO CLUE what it’s like out there for people younger. That’s not a jab…..it’s just a lot like cognitive dissonance. Not really your fault. You all have been used to the gravy train for so long it’s made you numb to the realities of life for young people trying to raise families. You guys love to complain about healthcare……what about childcare? what about college? Things that you guys have all taken for granted. It’s not my generation that has put this country $20 trillion in debt.

        • Nick Kelly
          Oct 12, 2017 at 8:30 pm

          Keerist.

      • Nick Kelly
        Oct 12, 2017 at 8:28 pm

        What’s all this about Chinese tools? I buy Makita or Ryobi.
        I avoid anything Chinese except clothes some of them excellent value because the outfit went over there and monitors quality.

  6. Suzie Alcatrez
    Oct 10, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    How long until Sears in the US follows suit??

    • d
      Oct 10, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      Sears US needs to be kept alive as long as possible, as there is a lot of snarling over the Separation/Hiving off of the Property asset wing. The larger the time gap between the 2 year ceiling and the chapter 11 filing date, the better, for the Hedge fund fraudsters involved.

      • Valuationguy
        Oct 11, 2017 at 9:55 am

        If I remember correctly…the actual date needed to be reached by Sears in the U.S. was in late August 2017. After that anniversary, the 5-year federal statute look-back date the bankruptcy court can look at self-dealing transactions to claw-back assets is past the time to really examine what killed Sears balance sheet from a creditor perspective.

        I believe it was August 2012 when Eddie sold most of the Sears’ real-estate to another Eddie-influenced entity.

        • Oct 11, 2017 at 11:04 am

          It’s just 2 years, not 5 years, when the claw-back provisions governing fraudulent conveyance in the bankruptcy code expire. In July, 2015, Sears sold a lot real estate to related parties (that’s when the deal closed). So a bankruptcy filing after July 8, 2017 would be beyond the claw-back provisions. So we’re now fidgeting on the edge of our seat.

        • d
          Oct 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm

          “”If I remember correctly…the actual date needed to be reached by Sears in the U.S. was in late August 2017. After that anniversary, the 5-year federal statute look-back date the bankruptcy court can look at self-dealing transactions to claw-back assets is past the time to really examine what killed Sears balance sheet from a creditor perspective. ”

          Yes

          BUT there is still congress and various others. The Separation of sears from its assets, has been Blatant.

          So the fraudsters need some time on this one, SEARS is like GM. and American “Icon” Brand. Various Congress men used to own Stock in it.

          So when it goes, and it will, wolf has a different date. There ill be some trouble.

          Perhaps like GM it will not be “allowed to go”.

    • Oct 11, 2017 at 12:23 am

      January?

      • Cashboy
        Oct 11, 2017 at 3:49 am

        Yep; January is usually when they go bust in the UK.
        Try to get as much stock on credit to sell from the suppliers before the Xmas sales time.
        Sell what you can and then sell in the after Xmas Sale (seems to now start before Xmas) at below cost.
        The 1st of January is usually payment of the quarterly rent and that is when it ends.

  7. andy
    Oct 11, 2017 at 12:37 am

    Sears in Canada is not even a rounding error.
    Walmart sales are $485B. Alibaba sales are $24B. Of course Alibaba is twice as valuable. If/when Alibaba reaches same revenue as Walmart, Alibaba’s market cap should be around $10 Trillion.

  8. raxadian
    Oct 11, 2017 at 1:04 am

    Well, who will the next one to fall?

    • Mike
      Oct 11, 2017 at 7:35 am

      All of them except Walmart and Amazon

    • NoRush
      Oct 11, 2017 at 8:07 am

      The Bon-Ton IMO.

    • Martin
      Oct 11, 2017 at 8:28 am

      Who will fail next – walked around ‘the mall’ in Annapolis Maryland USA, zero customers in Lord & Taylor, zero customers seen in Nordstrom. At Sears the sales guys near the appliances were watching a TV and there were customers seen only by the kid’s clothes. The rest of the store may as well have been closed. Waiting for the liquidation sale to buy a washer, why not wait ?

      • Ethan in NoVA
        Oct 11, 2017 at 11:49 am

        Went to a mall in Fairfax Virginia over the weekend, had to replace sneakers. The main store I visited (JcPenny) looked so bad. I actually took pictures. It looked like it was already in a bankruptcy sale. I could hear employees chatting about non-work life things, meanwhile just piles of merchandise laying in the floors. Store displays totally in disarray. Customers I guess just dump items on the floor when they’re done? Or maybe switching out for winter. I’d guess it’s mostly Hispanic/Indian (dot not teepee) clientele but not sure. The Apple store there does well, I’d bet but some of the other stores have to be losing money.

        Another friend just closed his store in a mall in Westminster MD. Dealing with high cost of RE and employees wasn’t worth it, he said.

      • Frederick
        Oct 11, 2017 at 1:40 pm

        I walked through a Sears in Fredericksburg VA not too long ago to get to a car rental place at the rear of the store The ceiling tiles were wet and falling and the place was nearly empty with aj disheveled look about it Won’t be long now

    • Petunia
      Oct 11, 2017 at 8:28 am

      Macys, I don’t even want to walk into the place.

      • Frederick
        Oct 11, 2017 at 1:41 pm

        Haven’t been in a Macy’s since 2010 when they tried to sell me some crappy Chinese made furniture for WAY too much money

    • Helen Corbitt
      Oct 11, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Neiman Marcus.

  9. andy
    Oct 11, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Alibaba at 10 Trillion.
    Same size as Chinese GDP now.
    Maybe…

  10. Oct 11, 2017 at 7:30 am

    I really don’t understand how Sears exists anymore. Home Depot, Lowe’s, and, where I live, Menards, took alot of their business long ago. As far as trying to grow a company, Lampert has to be the worst CEO I have ever seen, the U.S. stores not being updated in years.

    Sears has just made every wrong move. They acquired Kmart, but didn’t put money into their stores either. For some odd reason, they acquired Land’s End, a business that is nowhere close to their customer base. The Sears catalog, which at one time, was the Amazon of its era, closed in 1993. Finally, they have sold off or licensed all of their name brands, why even go to the store anymore?

    Sears is just an obsolete company, a relic of another time. I still remember the Sears Tower being built in Chicago, but they seemed to go downhill afterwards. Lampert is just bleeding it dry at this time, probably the real reason he won’t spend money on the stores.

    • Travis Austin
      Oct 11, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Once upon a time, Sears and IBM each owned 50% of Prodigy, which was the public’s conception of the internet before the public ever heard the terms ‘Internet’ or ‘World Wide Web’. Okay, also CompuServe (H&R Block) and GEnie (General Electric) and a few others, all long-forgotten.

      Sears could have put their catalog online, IBM could have sold/leased “user access devices” subsidized by Sears — the synergies would have been amazing! Amazon would have never existed, and Walmart might have gone the way of Woolco. No AOL, so Time-Warner wouldn’t have lost its way.

      But Sears had no idea what they owned.

      • Oct 11, 2017 at 4:59 pm

        Exactly. This was staring them in the face and they couldn’t see it.

    • Ethan in NoVA
      Oct 11, 2017 at 11:52 am

      KMart actually bought Sears as I recall.

      • Frederick
        Oct 11, 2017 at 1:43 pm

        They sell DieHard batteries at Kmart stores

  11. Drango
    Oct 11, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Sears was known for its Craftsman tools and appliances, and a hundred years ago you could actually order a house from the Sears catalog! Now those things can be bought elsewhere (Home Depot, Best Buy). The last decades have seen the specialization of retail, and the old one-stop-shopping model doesn’t work anymore. K-mart and Sears are remnants of a 1960’s economy, with business models and products that can no longer compete in an industry that is more cutthroat than ever.

  12. Eyes Open Wide
    Oct 11, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Is Sears Canada a federally or provincially regulated company? I believe that under federal regulations, the bankruptcy Insolvency Act and the Creditor Companies Arrangements Act allow the pension fund deficit to either be flushed or, if funds are generated in the liquidation process, they go into the pot for creditor (read banks, lawyers and other secured creditors) and retirees get a hair cut while beneficiaries get hosed. The rules for provincially regulated corporations are different – depending on which province has jurisdiction.
    The real difference, again I stand to be corrected, is that under provincial regulated bankruptcy, the tax payor picks up the deficit. Under federal regulated bankruptcy I believe the retiree is left swinging in the wind a la Nortel debacle.

    • MC
      Oct 11, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Apparently they are federally regulated and hence retirees are treated like unsecured creditors, meaning they may get something if, and only if, there’s anything left after paying the secured/senior creditors.

      • Frederick
        Oct 11, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        There probably won’t be much if anything left sadly for them

  13. mvojy
    Oct 11, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Time to load the family into the station wagon for one last trip to the local Sears before they’re all gone. Station wagon? I meant SUV.
    So much for that lifetime warranty on Craftsmen tools

  14. notJustme
    Oct 11, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Sears lost its vision in the 80’s and so it became weak, weak enough that it could be acquired by a predatory outfit such as ESL, which has liquidated all of the prime assets. Yes. Sears will soon be no more. But my guess is this has always been the ESL plan.

  15. TheDona
    Oct 11, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Here is an excellent short read on the rise and fall of Sears:

    http://www.therobinreport.com/the-rise-still-falling-iconic-american-brand/

    My favorite line is “The once-proud culture turned arrogant, then bureaucratic.”

  16. DAN BARRETT
    Oct 11, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Sadly, a friend of mine worked in Logistics for SEARS CANADA at head office in the early 1980’s and even said back then when he left “I will be surprised by the way they are managed, if they will be around until 1990.”

    Well they held on 27 years longer…

  17. mean chicken
    Oct 11, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Yes, prime example of minimum wage employment opportunities circling the bowl.

    I’m looking forward to reading about the abundance of replacement $15/hr minimum wage jobs, where do the 50+yr old displaced systems engineers apply?

  18. Paul
    Oct 12, 2017 at 1:04 am

    All the retailers ran to China to drop prices, and wiped out the manufacturers. That was thier consumer base… One of these days even China will see “opps those were are customers…”

    This is all a break down of capitolism caused by people who see money as actual gold and not a unit of exchange.

    Why we trust the “wealthy” to do anything is beyond me. They aren’t even effective at making themselves wealthy… They more surve as vehicles to hinder exchange and prevent commerce and send segments of the population into plenary… So agents of anti-capitalism are to run it…

    Takes a lot to wreck an economy as big as America’s… And only the wealthy could do it.

  19. ML
    Oct 13, 2017 at 1:14 am

    All retailers have a shelf-life. With creative accounting, the shelf life can be extended but for how long depends upon how creative and how long the competition allows them to get away with it.

    Buying quality makes sense for customers but selling quality only makes sense for retailers if the profit margin is more than enough to offset the infrequency of purchase and the business is able to attract more than enough customers to offset the time that passes between each customer buying another quality product.

    Most retailers cannot afford the luxury of waiting patiently. Overheads, operating costs, eat into margin and impose a need for higher turnover which in the absence of higher spending customers is only achieved by lowering standards. The challenge is to avoid tipping the balance of cash-flow.

    The same principle applies to personal lifestyles. Which is why, for example, we read on this thread about someone whose childcare costs lash out at someone else who in a year spent $5000 on tools.

  20. SimplyPut7
    Oct 13, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Sears Canada is officially gone. Court approves liquidation.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/sears-closures-impact-small-communities-1.4353011

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