Sears Canada's CEO Calvin McDonald has resigned. He leaves behind a struggling retailer which may now be more open to selling back some of its valuable leases to its landlords, possibly leading to more Canadian Nordstorm stores. Not to mention, the possibility of Sears stores being subdivided or being occupied by the likes of La Maison Simons, Saks Fifth Avenue or Holt Renfrew. The following is our analysis of what could replace several valuable Sears locations.
In the past 14 months, Sears Canada has sold off several of its leases to mall landlords. In the summer of 2012, Sears sold its leases in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa, paving the way for Nordstrom's first Canadian stores. Sears subsequently sold two leases in the Toronto area, resulting in speculation that La Maison Simons may move in. Sears also announced a $1 billion project to redevelop its Burnaby BC real estate at Metrotown.
But what about Sears Canada's most valuable retail space? We're referring to the 816,000 square foot flagship Sears at the Toronto Eaton Centre. Calvin McDonald held on to the store, repeatedly saying that its lease wasn't up for sale and that it would continue to operate as the chain's Canadian flagship. With McDonald gone, we think the Toronto Eaton Centre Sears will be sold to landlord Cadillac Fairview for a fortune, and that we'll see it redeveloped to include at least one anchor store (Nordstrom? La Maison Simons?) as well as other smaller retailers willing to pay good money for prominently-located smaller retail spaces.
Sears Canada has other potentially valuable leases that we think could be sold to landlords, possibly paving the way for more Nordstrom, La Maison Simons and Holt Renfrew locations, and other uses. Here's our analysis of some of Sears Canada's more "valuable" spaces:
GREATER TORONTO AREA:
Sears, Sherway Gardens, Toronto: This Sears store is over 225,000 square feet and anchors an entire wing of the mall. Hudson's Bay anchors the other end. Other anchors include Holt Renfrew (which is possibly staying at Sherway and expanding) and, in 2016, Nordstrom which will open one of two Toronto locations. We would expect Sears space to be subdivided and for part of it to be occupied by the likes of La Maison Simons or even Saks Fifth Avenue.
Sears, Fairview Shopping Centre, Toronto: The 149,600 square foot Sears store could be redeveloped into new mall space or could possibly accommodate retail as well as a La Maison Simons store. We don't see Saks or Holt's moving into this mall at the moment. It's interesting to note that, decades ago, Holt Renfrew had a small store at Fairview.
Sears, West Edmonton Mall: This 149,000 square foot Sears would make an excellent location for a new Nordstrom store. And we hear that there have already been talks regarding this possibility. Simons wouldn't be a possibility as it already has a store at West Edmonton Mall which opened last year. Holt's or Saks? We're not sure.
Sears, Southgate Shopping Centre: At 263,000 square feet, this large Sears is positioned in the mall such that it could be easily subdivided into multiple-tenant retail. Part of its space could be used for a department store be it Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew or Saks Fifth Avenue. As a side note, we've heard there are expansion plans for Edmonton's downtown Holt Renfrew so we're not sure if a Southgate location would be considered.
Sears, Le Carrefour Laval, suburban Montreal: This 150,000 square foot Sears store is located in one of Canada's most productive malls, also featuring Hudson's Bay and La Maison Simons. The space could be subdivided or could possibly become Quebec's first Nordstrom store, given that it's the right size.
Sears, Les Galeries d'Anjou, Montreal: This 147,000 square foot Sears store is in a mall that has seen substantial renovations, including a renovated Hudson's Bay store and a La Maison Simons store that opened last month. Its value may lie with its subdivision.
RICHMOND BC: Sears, Richmond Centre: This 122,000 square foot Sears store could be configured into multiple-tenant retail or could be occupied by the likes of Nordstrom or La Maison Simons. Richmond has considerable household wealth, despite income statistics that might indicate otherwise.
CALGARY: Sears, Southcentre: The 234,000 square foot Sears at Southcentre could become part of a mall expansion. Landlord Oxford Properties intends to make improvements to this mall and we're expecting La Maison Simons to open at Southcentre within the next three years (for those reading closely, we just dropped you a hint).
WINNIPEG: Sears, Polo Park Shopping Centre: The 263,000 square foot Sears store could be converted to multiple-tenant retail and part of it could eventually house either a Nordstrom or La Maison Simons. Holt Renfrew might also consider re-opening a full-sized Winnipeg store, though we're not aware of any such plans.
The above list is by no means exhaustive - Sears has other excellent retail locations but we've limited discussion for now. Please keep reading our website, as we'll be watching Sears Canada's real estate closely in the coming months.
[Sears Canada website]