Sears Canada takes on lululemon with new, moderate-priced yoga and athletic wear

Sears Canada appears to be taking on Lululemon and other athletic wear competitors with the launch of PURE NRG Athletics, a line of performance clothing for active women seeking high-quality fashionable workout wear at moderate prices.  

The PURE NRG Athletics line includes an assortment tank tops, t-shirts, shorts, pants, hoodies and zip-ups with functional features such as four-way stretch and Cool Effect® wicking fabric, flatlock seams to help prevent chafing, pants with a contoured waistband, tops with a breathable built-in power mesh bra and more. All of the pieces in the collection range from $10 to $50.

"We are excited to launch our PURE NRG Athletics line of activewear," said Doug Campbell, President and CEO, Sears Canada. "Now Canadian women can get high-quality athletic wear at prices that are reasonable and as close as their nearest Sears store or their own doorstep if shopping on  We think our customers will see the combination of the quality and price of PURE NRG Athletics as filling a space in the marketplace that has not been otherwise addressed.  The development of private brands that provide superior features and benefits at affordable prices is a strategy Sears will continue to use to offer uniqueness and exclusivity to Canadians coast to coast."

A comprehensive, innovative marketing strategy, including national advertising, PR, flyers, outdoor and digital campaigns will support the launch.  Additionally, Sears is activating media in local gyms and fitness studios within close proximity to top stores with advertisements in the change rooms. In select locations this is augmented with mannequin displays in the main gym area and instructors wearing the PURE NRG Athletics collection.

SOURCE Sears Canada press release. Top image: Sears Canada.

Saks Fifth Avenue to replace Sears at Toronto's Sherway Gardens

According to mall management, Saks Fifth Avenue will replace the Sears store at Toronto's Sherway Gardens. Saks will occupy over half of Sherway's 225,000 square foot Sears store location which Sears sold back to landlord Cadillac Fairview in October. Saks is expected to open in the spring of 2016, about one year before the Sherway Nordstrom store which will now open in the spring of 2017

We've been told by a source at Cadillac Fairview that Sherway's Saks Fifth Avenue will be about 132,000 square feet, even larger than Holt Renfrew's recently announced store at Mississauga's Square One. The same source tells us that Saks at Sherway will feature a 25,000 square foot 'food hall', differentiating it from Holt Renfrew as well as from American Saks stores. 

We had initially speculated that Saks would to open shops-in-store within existing suburban Hudson's Bay stores, and this is obviously not the case now for all Canadian Saks stores. In December we noted that the entire 225,000 square foot Sears might be a bit too large for Saks at Sherway, especially as only two American Saks locations are larger than 225,000 square feet, and both are 'urban' flagships, being the Manhattan (646,000 square feet) and Beverly Hills (275,000 square feet) stores. 

Sherway Gardens is one of Canada's most productive malls, enjoying per-square-foot sales of almost $900/year according to its landlord. Hudson's Bay anchors the opposite end of the mall from Sears. Other anchors include Holt Renfrew (which is possibly staying at Sherway and expanding) and, in 2017, a Nordstrom store which will be one of two Toronto locations

Sears will be vacating its Sherway location by February 28th, 2014. Hudson's Bay Company CEO Richard Baker previously discussed opening Saks at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre, as well. We'll update you when we hear more on this and other possible Canadian Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

Top Image - adapted from a Sherway Gardens rendering provided by Cadillac Fairview


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La Maison Simons could open at Montreal's Fairview Pointe-Claire

Sources tell us that

La Maison Simons

could open at Montreal's

Fairview Pointe-Claire

 Shopping Centre. If talks are successful, it would occupy part of the 181,795 square foot


store that currently anchors the mall's eastern portion. 

The 1 million square foot Fairview Pointe-Claire Shopping Centre is owned and operated by landlord

Cadillac Fairview

. It features almost 175 stores and is one of Montreal's most productive malls with yearly sales per square foot of $617.

Simons is expanding across Canada and plans to open new stores in

West Vancouver





Quebec and


, Ontario. It may also open a

store in suburban Calgary

. We'll keep you updated on Simons' Canadian expansion including this possible new suburban Montreal store.




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Sears Canada is ready to sell its 27 Quebec store leases

[Image Source]
Sears Canada is reportedly interested in selling its 27 store leases in the province of Quebec. Sources say that these stores could be sold if Sears receives advantageous offers from landlords, similar to deals made in English Canada. Although Nordstrom entered the Canadian market through Sears lease purchases, we don't believe Nordstrom will take any of the Quebec leases.

Company spokesperson Vincent Power says that Sears will consider selling leases back to mall landlords if the lease sale prices are in excess of the estimated profitability of a Sears store over 20 years. Sources tell us that talks are already under way for several of these Sears stores, and that La Maison Simons could be close to securing one of the Sears store locations.

Since April 2012, Sears Canada has sold back 11 of its store leases to mall landlords for a total of about $762 million. The sale of the first four Sears stores paved the way for Nordstrom's entry into the Canadian market. Sears has since sold back more leases paving the way for even more Nordstrom stores, as well as a La Maison Simons store in suburban Toronto.

A source familiar with the company tells us that Nordstrom currently has no plans to expand by opening stores in the Province of Quebec, at least for now. Nordstrom turned down our request to interview its Canadian President, Karen McKibbin, on this subject.

Industry sources say that talks are already in place between landlords and Sears Canada to sell off more store leases. We'll keep you updated as Sears Canada continues to liquidate its assets.


[Article Source]

[Sears Canada website]

Sears Canada lays off over 1600 employees & outsources tech jobs to IBM

[Image Source]

Sears Canada has laid off over 1,600 employees, representing more than 7% of its entire workforce. Included in these layoffs are 283 warehouse jobs across Canada as well as 1,345 associate jobs at three customer call Centres in Montreal, Belleville Ont. and Toronto. Call centre jobs will be eliminated over the next nine months, and will be outsourced to IBM. 

Sears spokesperson Dan Madge says Sears warehouses affected by the most immediate layoffs are in Calgary, Montreal, Belleville and Vaughan (both in Ontario) and in a Vancouver suburb. 

The following is their press release: 

TORONTOJan. 15, 2014 /CNW/ - Sears Canada Inc. (TSX: SCC) announced today that the Company has entered into an agreement with third party vendor IBM to externally reassign the work currently performed at three internal Sears Customer Contact Centres.  The move to a third party will enable Sears to realize significant capability upgrades which will result in better processes, controls and tracking and an overall improvement in the customer experience. The transfer of responsibility, designed to be seamless to customers, will take place over the next nine months and affect 1,345 associates.
"The changes we are making to our Customer Contact Centres will allow us to streamline the support structure of our organization while enhancing the overall customer experience," said Doug Campbell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sears Canada Inc. "Our partner will bring tools and technologies that will allow us to operate more effectively without the ongoing investment in and maintenance of legacy proprietary systems. This will provide our customers with the benefits of up-to-date technology and enable us to focus on our core retail business, the area where we believe we have the greatest opportunity to maximize the value of the Company."
For those who are leaving Sears, career transition support will be provided to assist in preparing for and obtaining their next role outside of Sears.
The Company is also initiating a reorganization and simplification of its logistics organization intended to drive optimal performance by leveraging tools and technology that will streamline business processes, which will result in an additional staff reduction of 283 associates effective immediately.
"These types of decisions are not made without considerable thought and deliberation," added Mr. Campbell.  "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 coast to coast in stores and through our Direct channel now and in the future.  In this case, we firmly believe that these changes are necessary and will allow us to better serve our customers.  I thank those leaving Sears for their contribution to the Company and wish them all the best in the future."
Sears Canada is a multi-channel retailer with a network that includes 181 corporate stores, 241 Hometown stores, over 1,400 catalogue and online merchandise pick-up locations, 101 Sears Travel offices and a nationwide repair and service network. The Company also publishes Canada's most extensive general merchandise catalogue and offers shopping online at
Although the Company believes that the forward-looking information presented with respect to the outsourcing initiative is reasonable, such forward-looking information involves known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking information, and undue reliance should not be placed on such information.  The forward-looking statements in this release are made as of the date hereof.  The Company does not undertake any obligation to update publicly or to revise any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
[Source: Press release]

[Sears Canada website]

Nordstrom to replace Sears at the Toronto Eaton Centre

As many of us expected, Nordstrom has announced that it will replace Sears at the Toronto Eaton Centre. It will open a 213,000 square foot, three-level store. Construction begins in March and the store is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016, around the same time as its Yorkdale Shopping Centre location

Although Sears will vacate the Toronto Eaton Centre space next month, it will continue to occupy approximately 460,000 square feet of office space over four floors above Nordstrom for Sears Canada's headquarters. The office space was formerly retail space. 

In total, the Toronto Eaton Centre Sears is about 816,000 square feet. Besides the square footage to be occupied by Nordstrom and Sears Canada's office space, an additional 140,000 square feet of retail space will become available for other retailers. Tenant(s) are expected to be announced in the near future. 

Despite the fact that it will be the company's Canadian flagship, the Toronto Eaton Centre Nordstrom will be its second-largest Canadian store location. Its Vancouver store will be larger at almost 230,000 square feet.

Dundas/Yonge Street, Street level (Level 3) Lease Plan: Cadillac Fairview

Sears sold its Toronto Eaton Centre lease back to landlord Cadillac Fairview in October. Sears' Canadian entry was made possible after it sold back store leases in Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary. It subsequently sold two other leases, paving the way for a Nordstrom store at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre
“Our properties were the first to welcome Nordstrom to Canada, and we're thrilled to continue our partnership with Nordstrom in the opening of five of six of its locations in Canada,” said John Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cadillac Fairview.
Wayne Barwise, Executive Vice President of Development at Cadillac Fairview said that over the past three years the corporation has spent $120 million in enhancements to Toronto Eaton Centre.
“This second phase of redevelopment will include an additional $400 million. We are delighted to have Nordstrom be part of this exciting venture as we continue to bring a premier urban retail shopping experience to the city,” he said in a release.


[Image Source]

Happy New Year from Retail Insider. 2013 was an busy year for Canadian retail news, and we think 2014 will be equally busy. Here is our top 10 list of Canadian retail news stories, with topics provided by readers. This article is by Retail Insider writer Adam Ramsay


One of Canada's biggest retail stories of the year involved a huge corporate takeover. On July 15th, Loblaw announced that it had acquired Shoppers Drug Mart for $12.4 billion in a cash and stock agreement. The deal was groundbreaking as the nation’s leading grocer had acquired the nation’s largest pharmacy chain. Under terms of the purchase, Shoppers Drug Mart will continue to keep its identity and will operate as a new division of Loblaw.

Loblaw also announced in the deal that Shoppers will continue to use an ‘associate owner’ system - one that helped make the chain one of the country’s top 10 most fail-proof franchises. Because of this, no store closing or rebrandings have taken place and none are anticipated. A ‘cross marketing’ of Loblaws and Shoppers signature products, services and loyalty programs has also begun and will continue to expand in 2014.


Rana Plaza, Bangladesh [Image Source]

In April, a devastating collapse of an illegally built clothing factory in Bangladesh killed 1,129 people and injured more than 2,500. The factory, Rana Plaza, was used by several well-known inexpensive fashion labels including Canadian retailer Loblaws for its Joe Fresh line. The disaster is now regarded as the world’s worst modern-day industrial tragedy.

The building collapse has led to international discussions over corporate and social responsibility across global supply chains. Advocacy groups have been working on awareness campaigns and accords meant to highlight and fix the terrible working conditions and treatment of Bangladeshi workers and many consumers have revolted against companies that not only have connections to the building which collapsed, but also to those who use Bangladesh factory sourcing in general.

In December, five global retailers who source from Bangladesh, along with other manufacturers and labour groups, created a $40 million compensation fund for victims of the Rana Plaza disaster. Those retailers include Britain's Primark, Spain's El Corte Inglés, France's Bon Marché and Canadian Loblaw.

Target Canada [Image Source]

After years of rumours, market research and anticipation, Target - the #2 department store chain in the United States - made its long awaited Canadian debut in March. The company would open up 124 locations from coast to coast in 2013 and with it promised Canadians a “distraction-free” shopping experience with products, brands and loyalty programs much akin to those found south of the border.

Reaction from consumers proved to be a disappointment for Target, as supply issues in many departments left store shelves empty in a problem that is still not fully rectified going into 2014. There was also concern amongst shoppers that the prices found in the former Zellers locations were higher than their American counterparts. In September, Target had to move quickly to correct a nasty PR issue that saw veterans forced outside of their stores to sell poppies for Remembrance Day. Target Canada President Tony Fisher has been adamant that although Canadian operations have been a drag on total company earnings so far, they are committed to growth and will "continue to show positive progress as [they] continue to go forward."


Lululemon store, Vancouver [Image Source]

Lululemon has had a year for the ages, but not the kind that they’ll necessarily want to remember. First there was the sheer yoga pants recall that began in late 2012 that cost the company $67 million in lost revenue, affecting almost a fifth of its entire inventory. In June, well-liked company CEO Christine Day, who had lead the brand for more than five years and steered the company through the above mentioned recall, announced that she was leaving.

Perhaps the most damaging PR mishap of the year came in November, when founder Chip Wilson stated in an interview that "some women’s bodies just actually don’t work" with Lululemon pants, when complaints began to grow that the pants are sheer and pill too easily. Wilson quickly came under fire for his comments, and many believe he exasperated the situation by offering an apology that didn’t retract his remarks. Early in December, he resigned from the organization that he himself created.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Lululemon, as sales continue and they enjoy some of the most productive retail space in Canada. The West Edmonton Mall Lululemon location, the company’s highest selling, brings in upwards of $26 million annually with a store of only 3,200 square feet, and that Lululemon stores enjoy average revenues of $1,936 per square foot annually.

Calvin McDonald, Sears Canada [Image Source]

It was another rough year for Sears Canada, as in September CEO Calvin McDonald resigned as head of the company that has been struggling to both find itself and keep up with competitors in recent years.
As he moved on to head up the North American operations of Sephora - a French cosmetics chain - Sears continued to actively sell back some of its most valuable leases to landlords in an attempt to secure the much needed capital just to continue its operations.

As the company continues to divest of some of its most valuable assets, it has begun to pave the way for some major new entrants into Canada’s retail space. Upscale American department store retailers Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue (purchased this year by HBC) have already announced plans to open up locations in this country. And with La Maison Simons focusing aggressively on new development outside of Quebec and the long-running rumour that Bloomingdales locations might not be far from a reality in this country, Sears is opening the door to increased competition amongst retailers to allure the type of consumer it has historically tried to attract. 2014 will prove to be a pivotal year for Sears Canada, not just for its long-term success, but for its very survival.

[Image Source]

Back in June, Sobeys invested $5.8 billion in a cash deal that saw them acquire Western Canadian grocer Safeway. The deal included hundreds of locations with in-store pharmacies, plus gas stations, liquor stores, manufacturing facilities and a handful of distribution centres and related wholesale business. The Competition Bureau approved the sale in October, but would demand that Sobeys divest of 23 stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The move is expected to save Empire (Sobeys parent company) more than $200 million annually in operational costs.

The Safeway acquisition wasn’t the only substantial business move for the company in 2013. In addition to teaming up with Target to supply their new 124 stores with grocery items through the Sobeys distribution network, they have also finalized the purchase of the Shell gas stations in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. There’s been the sell-off of their Theatre business (through parent company Empire) to Cineplex and even the recent opening of the first of their new 'Sobeys Extra' format stores in Burlington, Ontario. In this fall it was announced that long-time company executive Marc Poulin - who became the President of Sobeys in June 2012 - is taking over as the head with the retirement of Paul Sobey.

[Image Source]

The summer proved to be a very busy time for North American retail business purchases, takeovers and acquisitions. That was certainly felt by American luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue who had seen keen interest from several potential buyers. The Hudson’s Bay Company made its $2.9 billion purchase of Saks public on July 28 by announcing that they will open 7-8 full line Saks and up to 25 'Off 5th' (discount outlet chain) locations in Canada. It was also reported that a REIT could be set up to hold Saks' real estate assets, which are valued at $1.5 billion.

In early December, it was revealed that the flagship location for Saks in Canada will be built on the corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets in Downtown Toronto, and will in fact replace a 342,000 square foot Hudson’s Bay store. Once the more than $100 million renovation is complete and the location opens its doors, it is expected to be the second largest Saks in the world, after the Manhattan store in New York. The arrival of Saks and Nordstrom north of the border, combined with the already existing presence of the likes of Holt Renfrew means that upscale department store retailing will soon to heat up in Canada.

Screenshot, website

For many, delivery drones may quickly come to mind when thinking about the kind of year Amazon had in 2013. But for Canadians, it’s a different story altogether, as the online retail giant announced its intentions in October to enter into the ultra-competitive Canadian grocery market.

Amazon launched the grocery and gourmet food section on its website on Halloween, offering more than 15,000 different food items including packaged beverages, breakfast foods, pantry supplies and snacks. All major brands are represented on the site, with very competitive pricing. This leaves many in the industry to believe that the already heated Canadian 'grocery war' is about to get even fiercer, and that as a result prices will be driven down. In fact, Amazon believes it already has a pricing advantage on its bricks-and-mortar competitors, citing its 'dynamic pricing' model, which analyzes massive amounts of data to adjust prices in real time on certain items when necessary.

Amazon's move has Canadian grocery retailers taking notice. Loblaws and Sobeys, for example, anticipated the increased competition earlier this year when each made substantial investments in future sustainability by taking over Shoppers Drug Mart and Safeway, respectively. With Walmart’s further expansion into the Supercentre format across the country, and Target’s 2013 foray into the ring, the Canadian grocery industry both in-store and online will no doubt remain the most competitive retail space in 2014.

Black Friday shoppers [Image Source]

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the biggest shopping days on the calendar in the United States, have become a major force in Canadian retail as well. This year, more Canadians than ever before shopped in-store and online during these major sales days hoping to find outstanding discounts on products and services. Mall landlords and large national retailers have led the charge, all but forcing businesses of any scale or type to offer their very best prices and offers to compete.

Although more Canadians than ever before took part in the shopping frenzies, the numbers were still lower than anticipated earlier in the year. Part of the blame is thought to be placed on the fact that savings north of the border simply weren’t as attractive as those found in the States. As an example, many retailers offered up to 80% discounts down south, while most of the sales experienced in Canada were only in the 40-50% range, which proved to be not much better than the normal savings found in a typical sale in many stores.

The general belief is that the shopping events will continue to grow in Canada, but proper marketing is needed amongst retailers, and a 'one size fits all' approach will not necessarily work for Canadians.

La Maison Simons, West Edmonton Mall. Photo: Darrell Bateman (darrellinyvr on Flickr, Image Source)

La Maison Simons has had another busy year of strategic planning. After opening their first location outside of Quebec in 2012 - a 118,000 square foot store in the West Edmonton Mall - plans have been unveiled that will see the chain expand further into other major Canadian cities including West Vancouver 's Park Royal Shopping Centre, Ottawa (at Rideau Centre and Les Promenades Gatineau) and at Mississauga's Square One Shopping Centre.

La Maison Simons CEO Peter Simons has also identified Winnipeg and Calgary as cities that are ‘on the radar’ of the company, which could see as many as two locations open up in Calgary. He went on to say in an interview with Retail Insider in September, that there is no preference as it relates to urban vs. suburban development, and that all future growth must be “gradual and intelligent” so that the company, which has existed for more than 175 years, can continue to exist for future generations. La Maison Simons currently operates 10 stores in Canada, all in the neighbourhood of 80-100,000 square feet. The highest-selling locations remain inside their home province of Quebec, at Place Ste Foy and Downtown Montreal, though this may change in 2014 as its West Edmonton Mall store continues to see significant sales growth.


Feel free to submit your top choices to our comments section below. You may also post to our Facebook Page and comment to our Twitter Feed


We found this Sears commercial both amusing and a bit sad for the fact that it states "Sears always has parking." Despite the subsequent shopping spree, the reality is that Sears stores are struggling and more Canadian store closures are likely.

This Bloomberg news article indicates that Sears Canada may choose to close even more store locations. Sources tell us that Sears Canada is likely to announce substantial store closings and layoffs in the New Year, including more suburban store locations than may be initially expected. Sources also indicate that Sears Canada could be sold to a large Canadian retailer in 2014, and we'll update you more when we are better able to confirm this.

(Thank you 'Skeezix' of Urban Toronto for posting this article)

[Sears Canada website]


[Image Source]

Sears Canada will likely continue selling off its store leases including those held as joint ventures, according to sources. It just sold off 8 more store leases for a total of about $315 million in the province of Quebec, though these particular Sears stores will be staying open for now. Each of these leases is a 50% joint venture interest that Sears Canada holds with The Westcliff Group of Companies. The purchaser of these leases is Montez Income Properties Corporation

More interestingly, Sears Canada is seeking to liquidate real estate assets before its possible bankruptcy, according to another source. Page 73 of Sears Canada's 2012 Annual Report provides a list of joint venture leases (see below). Of the 10 joint venture leases that Sears Canada had with Westcliff Group, only 8 have been sold, meaning that Sears could possibly sell two more. The company also has three joint venture leases with landlord Ivanhoe Cambridge, namely for Sears stores at Winnipeg's Kildonan Place, Les Rivières Shopping Centre and Les Galeries de Hull. These three joint ventures are only 15-20% interests that our source thinks could be sold next. 

From Page 73 of Sears Canada's 2012 Annual Report. 
1) The 8 joint venture leases sold to Montez,
2) Two Westcliff joint venture leases, still held at 50% by Sears Canada,
3) Three joint venture leases held by Sears Canada and Ivanhoe Cambridge

A retail analyst further notes that Sears Canada's dividend payouts point to an otherwise gloomy future for the retailer. Keith Howlett of Desjardins Securities mentioned to the Toronto Star that in the first half of 2013, Sears Canada generated a loss from its retailing operations before tax of $56.9 million, while its profit before tax from joint venture real estate investments was $5.8 million. Howlett expects Sears Canada to pay a special dividend to shareholders before the end of 2013, and he estimates it to be as high as $6/share given recent lease sell-backs. 

We see these dividends as indicative of a company seeking to cash-out its real estate, rather than a company looking to reinvest profits in a turnaround. 

We'll continue to report on the winding-down of Sears Canada, as our source speculates that the company may no longer be in operation by the Spring of 2014. 

[Sears Canada website]


Photo: Google Streetview screenshot

Sears Canada

has sold five more of its store leases to mall landlords for about $400 million. This creates an opportunity to redevelop these spaces as well as possibly pave the way for more Canadian 



Saks Fifth Avenue


La Maison Simons

and even



Sears has sold its store leases back to its mall landlords in the following locations: 

  • Toronto:The Toronto Eaton Centre
  • Toronto:Sherway Gardens Shopping Centre
  • Markham, Ontario:Markville Shopping Centre
  • London, Ontario:Masonville Place
  • Richmond, BC:Richmond Centre

All of these malls are owned and operated by landlord

Cadillac Fairview

except for Richmond Centre, which is co-owned by Cadillac Fairview and

Ivanhoe Cambridge

The following is our analysis of what could replace these Sears Canada locations: 


 Toronto Eaton Centre

The 816,000 square foot crown jewel of Sears Canada's real estate offers plenty of options for redevelopment. We think that


is a frontrunner to replace a majority of the vacated Sears space

, and 

that it would occupy 225,000-275,000 square feet. 

Other possible department store anchors include

La Maison Simons

(which would occupy about 100,000-130,000 square feet) and Bloomingdale's, 

which continues to show interest

in the Canadian market. Saks Fifth Avenue is a further possibility, though we believe Downtown Toronto's Saks

will replace the current Hudson's Bay store at the corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets

, closer to the luxury shopping area of


and its anchor,




Some of Sears' current Toronto Eaton Centre space could also be subdivided for use by multiple retailers. We'll elaborate soon in an article devoted specifically to Sears' Toronto Eaton Centre real estate. 

The top four floors of the store will remain Sears Canada's corporate headquarters, at least in the shorter term. Sources tell us that Sears Canada will continue to utilize its $1/square foot/year lease for this office space (which would have expired in the year 2077), making it far less costly than other available office space. 

Sears will be vacating the lower retail portion of this location by February 28th, 2014. 


 Sherway Gardens Shopping Centre

There are plenty of options to reuse the 225,665 square foot Sherway Sears space. The store could even be demolished for redevelopment, to be replaced by multiple smaller stores and one or more anchor stores. Sherway attracts affluent shoppers and the mall could see

Saks Fifth Avenue

 occupy part of the current Sears space, though Saks would likely not occupy more than about 130,000 square feet. 

Sherway Gardens is one of Canada's most productive malls, enjoying per-square-foot sales of almost $900/year according to its landlord. Hudson's Bay anchors the opposite end of the mall from Sears. 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.

Sears will be vacating its Sherway location by February 28th, 2014.

Markham, Ontario:

 Markville Shopping Centre

Markville's Sears store is 130,626 square feet according to its landlord, and we think the store space has limited potential for an upscale replacement anchor store. The mall already features Hudson's Bay and Walmart as its anchors, and the entire mall spans close to a million square feet. Sales per square foot at Markville are only about $490/square foot/year according to the mall's landlord. 

La Maison Simons could replace part of Sears' space. The space could also be subdivided for multiple smaller anchors and other stores. We doubt that, given the mall's demographics and sales, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's or Saks Fifth Avenue will replace Markville's Sears any time soon. 

Sears will be vacating Markville by February, 2015.

London, Ontario:

 Masonville Place

This 127,205 square foot Sears store is in London, Ontario's most productive shopping centre. The mall, in fact, boasts sales of about $770/square foot according to its landlord. Other anchors include a relatively small Hudson's Bay store (at about 85,000 square feet) as well as a 91,200 square foot Target store. 

One could speculate that Sears' space could be replaced by Nordstrom, as the city and store arguably share some of the same characteristics. London is a conservative but relatively well-to-do city whose population could possibly support a Nordstrom. Nordstrom, itself, has been described as being both conservative and upscale. We doubt London would have the quantity of luxury-oriented shoppers to support Saks Fifth Avenue, and we don't expect La Maison Simons to target London in the next several years. 

Sears will be vacating this space by February 28th, 2014.

Richmond, BC:

 Richmond Centre

This 122,000 square foot Sears store could be reconfigured into multiple-tenant retail or be occupied by the likes of Nordstrom or La Maison Simons. Richmond has considerable household wealth, despite income statistics that might indicate otherwise. The mall enjoys sales of about $700/square foot, but may require renovations to entice any new upscale anchors.

Sears will be vacating this space by February, 2015.

Further Details on Sears Leases

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.

Sears is making a large profit from selling its leases. Its

first lease sale

in the summer of 2012 generated about $170 million. The

subsequent sale of two Toronto-area leases

gained the company over $190 million, and a

possible $53 million

for Sears' Scarborough Town Centre lease could further be realized. This is easy money for Sears, and it leads us to anticipate that more Sears Canada leases will be sold in the coming months.


Sears Canada website



Sears Canada has sold 5 more leases back to mall landlords to the tune of about $400 million. The Sears locations scheduled to close include: 

Toronto: The Toronto Eaton Centre
Toronto: Sherway Gardens Shopping Centre
Markham, Ontario: Markville Shopping Centre
London Ontario: Masonville Place
Richmond, BC: Richmond Centre

We'll be following up this brief article with an extensive analysis of what may replace these Sears stores. 

Needless to say, an opportunity has been created for more exciting new retail in Canada, including the likelihood of a flagship Nordstrom store for Downtown Toronto

[Sears Canada website]


[Image Source]

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:


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]


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Last month we reported that Macy's could possibly open in Canada by buying Sears Canada. We've got an update which may disappoint - Macy's has no interest either in Sears Canada or in opening Canadian stores.

Macy's has been looking at opening in Canada over the years and has examined numerous possibilities, from buying The Hudson's Bay Company to opening newly-built stores at selected Canadian malls. In the early 2000's, Macy's thought it had secured almost 20 Canadian locations within Cadillac Fairview malls. Negotiations stalled and the deal fell through.

Macy's CEO Terry J. Lundgren says that the company no longer has interest in the Canadian retail market, especially now that so many other American retailers have moved north of the border. Nordstrom will open Canadian stores, Saks Fifth Avenue will open within selected Hudson's Bay real estate, and Hudson's Bay itself is similar to Macy's in many ways.

Hudson's Bay and Macy's are both large-format department stores generally catering to the middle market, with some luxury thrown in for good measure. Some of Macy's flagships carry more comprehensive designer selections. Same for Hudson's Bay. Macy's is spending a fortune to renovate its New York City flagship, and Hudson's Bay is doing the same with its Toronto and Vancouver flagships (though not nearly as much as Macy's $400 million Manhattan store renovation, the most expensive in retailing history).

Canada's population is about the same as the state of California's, and our land mass is huge. Canadians' income and wealth is, on average, slightly above Americans. Our population is, however, generally less likely to display expensive designer labels, limiting most of Canada's luxury retailing to Toronto and Vancouver. We may appear to be a desirable retail market, but we're small, spread-out and more likely to save our money or put it into homes and leisure.

Target is already finding its Canadian business challenging, and Nordstrom has expressed frustration coordinating its Canadian expansion. In hindsight, Macy's might be smart not moving into Canada, at least for now.

We don't expect many more foreign department store announcements for Canada in the next while. La Maison Simons is expanding, Holt Renfrew will spend hundreds of millions on store expansions/renovations, and Hudson's Bay will hopefully increase spending on store renovations to bring stores into the 21st century. Buying Saks Fifth Avenue may have been what Hudson's Bay needed for an update, and we'll report more on this soon.

So don't expect Neiman Marcus or Barney's New York to open in Canada, though if they did, we'd be first in line for their openings.

[Macy's website]


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We think Sears Canada's days are numbered, and we think Sears might be preparing to sell off more store leases and/or sell the entire company to another retailer. We'll explain how this could pave the way for more Canadian Nordstrom stores, as well as the entry of Macy's/Bloomingdale's into the Canadian market.

Sears Canada has been struggling and has already laid off a substantial number of employees. A couple of days ago, it let go 245 Canadian employees and announced that it was moving some of its IT, finance and payroll operations to India and the Philippines. We noticed that this announcement didn't come as part of a "broader strategy" for Sears. In fact, it's just more cost cutting. And this cost cutting, in our opinion, looks more like a retailer trying to make itself attractive for a takeover than a retailer trying to turn itself around.

If Sears were to sell out, we think it could be done in two ways. First, it could sell off a few more of its primely located stores, including locations at the Toronto Eaton Centre, Sherway Gardens, Polo Park in Winnipeg, West Edmonton Mall, and a few others. This could pave the way for more Canadian Nordstrom stores. Second, we know that Macy's has been considering the Canadian market for a while and is already considering bringing Bloomingdale's to Canada. Buying Sears Canada could be a strategic move for Macy's, as it could gain some prime retail space that would be impossible to build completely from scratch. We'll reveal more on Macy's/Bloomingdale's possible arrival to Canada soon.

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Readers may remember that it was originally Sears Canada's selling back some leases that led to Nordstrom's coming to Canada. Sears also recently sold back three prime Toronto area store leases, possibly opening the door for La Maison Simons in Toronto.

Several insiders tell us that morale at Sears Canada is low, both in its offices as well as its stores. We encourage everyone working at Sears Canada to hang in there, as there may be new positions coming available at some new, exciting retailers.

[Sears Canada website]


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Sears' American website is selling a $32,000 Rolex watch and a pair of Chanel boots marked down to 'only' $897. It's an interesting strategy for Sears, as the retailer struggles to maintain customer interest. 

Items are listed on the website's 'Marketplace'. It should be noted, however, that these items are sold by third-party vendors who pay Sears a commission of up to 20% on items sold, plus a $40 per month fee. These items are not technically in Sears' own inventory.

Some shoppers might question if these items are real or counterfeit. If we were in the market for Rolex or Chanel, we're not sure if we'd buy it online from Sears. 

[Product Link]

Nevertheless, the appearance of Rolex and Chanel products on Sears' website is a far cry from what's actually in store. We're not sure if this marketing tactic is smart or misguided, and we'd hope Sears doesn't let anything 'slip by' like, say, pornographic material or something else potentially controversial.

Our source for this article is this Wall Street Journal article.

[Sears website]