[Image Source]
Sears Canada will increase its focus on plus-sized womensear. It will initially open five plus-sized shops-in-store of about 4,000 square feet. Much of the new merchandise will be by Penningtons, a plus-size women's clothing label owned by Reitmans. Pennington's also has free-standing stores.

The five Canadian Sears stores will pilot the plus-sized womens shops and Penningtons will also be carried on Sears' website. More Sears plus-sized departments are expected to open nation-wide in 2014.

Penningtons is known for its reasonably priced, quality womenswear which starts at size 14. Sears will be the only Canadian store to carry Penningtons apart from Penningtons free-standing stores. 

Sears Canada has started positioning itself as a department store that focusses on suburban and smaller-community customers. Expanding women's plus-sized offerings may be an intelligent move in an effort to keep existing customers who may no longer fit into some clothing sold by competitors. 

[Pennington's website]

[Sears Canada website]


[Image Source]
Update: Oxford Properties purchased the Yorkdale and Square One leases for $191 million. Stores will close in March, 2014. Oxford also paid Sears $1 million for the option of buying-out the 230,000+ square foot Scarborough Town Centre Sears lease for $53 million. That closure could happen within the next 5 years. [Press Release]

A source tells us that Sears Canada has just sold two more of its store leases to its mall landlords. This time the landlord is Oxford Properties, and the mall locations are the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto and Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga.
Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto
The Yorkdale Sears is about 190,000 square feet and is located in the western portion of the mall. Nordstrom has already announced that it will open a 188,000 square foot Yorkdale store as part of an eastward mall expansion, so the Yorkdale Sears space will either be reconfigured for multiple retailers, demolished then redeveloped, or be leased to another anchor tenant. La Maison Simons has been in talks with the landlord and could occupy some, though likely not all of the space. Simons is seeking Toronto store space in the 80,000-120,000 square foot range. 
Square One Shopping Centre, Mississauga
Square One's Sears store is about 145,000 square feet and it is located at the north-end of the mall. Nordstrom could become a possible replacement anchor for the Sears space, though Nordstrom has already secured a 138,000 square foot space at nearby Sherway Gardens mall that will open in 2016. Again, La Maison Simons could possibly occupy the Sears space, though Simons could also go in the expanded area near the recently announced 120,000 square foot Holt Renfrew. Holts will be located in an expanded southern portion of Square One that will see Old Navy and neighbouring retailers demolished. 

Reader Eric Lewis has noted that the Square One Sears space could be utilized in a proposed mall expansion/reconfiguration at that end of the mall

We'll keep you updated on these interesting Sears developments. Given that Sears is still open to selling its Canadian store leases, we could see the way paved for more Nordstrom stores, including one in the much coveted Sears space at the Toronto Eaton Centre

Thank you to our source "K.W." for notifying us of this story. 

[Sears Canada website]

[Square One Shopping Centre website]

[Yorkdale Shopping Centre website]


[Image Source]
Supermodel Bar Refaeli will be the new face of Sears Canada's label, Nevada. She will also be featured on the cover of Sears' fall 2013 publication called 'LOOK!'

Sears Canada's CEO, Calvin McDonald says: "With the launch of our new Nevada brand denim designed by the Buffalo Group, we wanted someone that matched what the brand represents for women: fashionability, quality, and confidence. We believe this relationship will demonstrate to Canadians that Sears is a destination for great fitting, affordable and fashionable apparel, especially in the 25 to 40 age demographic."

Refaeli recently completed the photo shoot for the Fall LOOK! report where she will appear on the cover. She will also be involved in a number of marketing and public relations activities as the face of Nevada.  In-store appearances in conjunction with the launch of the Fall LOOK! report are being planned, as is the release of a behind-the-scenes video featuring clips from the photo shoot for the LOOK!

[Article Source]

[Sears Canada website]


Sears Canada has submitted plans to redevelop its owned 8.9 acre parcel at Burnaby BC's Metropolis at Metrotown. The estimated redevelopment cost will be about $1 billion. The project will include five residential towers and two office buildings over a retail component that will include a new Sears store. The site currently includes a 217,283 square-foot Sears department store, a 37,422 square foot Toys "R" Us store and acres of parking.

Sears is in the enviable position of owning its Metrotown store, land and adjacent parking. It therefore has the option of redeveloping this valuable real estate asset. We can expect Sears to utilize similar real estate assets, though it only owns about a dozen of its Canadian stores. The other Canadian Sears locations are leased and Sears will capitalize on selected leases as well. For example, Sears recently sold back three store leases to landlord Cadillac Fairview for $170 million, paving the way for Nordstrom to open in Canada. 

Image: Metropolis at Metrotown

Sears Canada is also seeking to either subdivide, sublease or even redevelop other store locations. It has hired consultants previously used by The Hudson's Bay Company to determine potential subleasing options and other best-use scenarios for Sears' existing real estate holdings. Sears' American parent is also actively looking to sublease space and has even created a website specifically to do so.

The Globe & Mail reports that the current 140,000 square foot Metrotown Sears store will be demolished and a 100,000 square foot replacement store will be built as part of the new project. Review of Metrotown leaseplans, however, show Sears as being over 217,000 square feet. Plans submitted by Sears state that a replacement Sears store will be a "flagship" location. Flagship locations usually indicate a store that is larger than most in its chain and which carries all or at least most product lines. We're not sure if a 100,000 square foot replacement Sears store could meet the definition of a "flagship" location given these qualifications.  

We'll report on updates to this development and we'll follow up with trying to determine the correct size and configuration of the future newly-built Sears store at Burnaby's Metrotown.

The submitted planning document by Sears to the City of Burnaby to redevelop its site can be found here. The Sears application starts at page 334.

[Metropolis at Metrotown website]

[Sears Canada website]

Matthew McConaughey's "JKL" Clothing Line Launches this Fall at Sears Canada

[Image Source]
Sears Canada will launch Matthew McConaughey's new clothing line called 'just keep livin' ("JKL"). It will be produced by Grand National Apparel Inc. The clothing line will be available in-store and online for the fall 2013 season. It was introduced in American Sears stores in February 2013.

A portion of every sale goes to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. The funds will provide after-school fitness and wellness programs for youth in Canada based on the curriculum of the just keep livin Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Matthew McConaughey, that supports after-school programs in areas that need them most.  These programs encourage young people to "improve their physical and mental health through exercise, teamwork, gratitude, and positive life choices" according to its press release.

The fashion line will include "technically-advanced fabrics, performance details and a relaxed, casual aesthetic.  Dubbed All-Journey Gear, the collection delivers versatile, active-inspired looks with functional performance fabrics that merge into good-looking, but hard-wearing apparel" (press release).

Sears Canada President and CEO Calvin McDonald states: "As we enter the second year of our three-year Transformation, working with new brands like JKL will help us improve the quality of our apparel offerings. An important part of our trading strategy is to increase our relevance with men in the 25-45 age range, and we expect that JKL's attractive yet rugged design will help bring these customers to Sears."

Matthew McConaughey states: "JKL stands for just keep livin. In 1992, my father moved on, and just keep livin came to be. It was about keeping his spirit alive and continuing to get incentive from the things he taught me. The tag line is a compass for me and serves as an approach to life: No matter where we're headed, where the road takes us, what's up ahead or what's behind us, we've got to 'just keep livin'. That's the philosophy. It's a big part of what we try to show the kids through our foundation and it's the DNA of the JKL brand."

[Source - Press Release]

[Sears Canada website]


Forever 21 carved out of Sears, South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa California [Image Source]
May 9, 2013 UPDATE: We've received confirmation Sears Canada will actively subleasing space in its stores. We have been informed that Whole Foods' Canadian expansion plans are already in place and that they will not likely occupy subleased space in Canadian Sears stores.

Sears Canada is looking at ways to utilize its assets, including real estate. An insider at Sears Canada says the company is considering subleasing space inside of existing stores, similar to what is being done with several American locations. 

Sears is actively looking to sublease within its American Sears stores via this website: Various options for sublease are included. In our investigating we found, for example, about 40,000 square feet of the 175,000 square-foot Town Centre at Boca Raton is available for sublease. Space could be used for retail, restaurants or both. 

Images used in this article were copied from the website as examples of possible Sears subleasing options and configurations.

Sears started its American subleasing trend by leasing 43,000 square feet of its South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, California) store to retailer Forever 21. We are not surprised Sears has continued this trend given that many of their stores have considerable space and lack shoppers. 

The sublease strategy only works when Sears is able to legally control its space. Some malls and landlords prohibit anchor stores from subleasing space, save for some smaller shop-in-store concepts. Sears Canada could capitalize on its massive store square footage through subleasing while maintaining its struggling operations. Sears already outright-sold three of its Canadian leases to landlord Cadillac Fairview for $170 million, paving the way for Nordstrom's Canadian entry. Subleasing could be a new way to capitalize on real estate without closing Canadian Sears stores. 

Sears has leased space to Whole Foods stores in several American stores in Florida, New York and North Carolina. It has done this by leasing approximately half of the ground-floor of a multi-level Sears store to Whole Foods, with no internal access between the retailers. 

We'll keep you updated on Sears Canada's possible subleasing strategy in our country, as well as its efforts to re-brand and pull itself out of its financial difficulties. 

Sears Canada

Sears' American subleasing website:

'Skin Removal' of Vancouver's 'Giant Toilet Bowl' Starting Today

[Image Source]
Today the exterior of Vancouver's former Downtown Sears store will start to be dismantled for the renovation and arrival of Nordstrom, as we previously reported, as well as for offices above.

The building's exterior panelling will be removed using an electric crane on a swing stage.  This is similar to a window cleaning stage (they say), which will lower to panels to the street level for removal. Panel removal starts with the TD plaza area and then moves clockwise, meaning panel removal will subsequently happen on the building's Granville Street side, then Robson street, then the Howe Street side.
[Image: Built Form, Vancouver Skyscraper Forum]
'Built Form' of Vancouver Skyscraper Forum provided this photograph, above, of the ground floor demolition of the interior of the former Sears space.

Thank you to 'officedweller' of Vancouver Skyscraper Forum for providing us with the update on the Pacific Centre Nordstrom project.

Retail Insider on twitter: @retailinsider_

Retail Insider on Facebook: 

Got any retail insider info?

Sears Canada Innovates: Teams With Buffalo and ALDO

Sears Canada is partnering with Buffalo and ALDO. Both companies will produce private-label merchandise for Sears. 

Buffalo International will design and manufacture Sears' 'Nevada' line of clothing for both men and women. ALDO will design and manufacture brands 'Nevada' and 'Attitude' clothing for men and women, as well as the 'Jessica' brand of women's shoes. These product launches will happen for the Fall 2013 season.
Buffalo is a 1973-founded Montreal-based clothing manufacturer and retailer with distribution in 18 countries via about 3000 retail locations. It was started by designer David Bitton.

ALDO is a 1972-founded Montreal-based shoe manufacturer and retailer with about 1,600 retal stores in 80 countries. According to Sears' press release, "ALDO Product Services (APS) is a division of the ALDO Group dedicated to providing branded wholesale and private label fashion footwear and accessories. Through its work with select retail clients, APS creates and develop brands, by offering all the tools and resources to help companies succeed, from research, product design and development to branding, marketing and distribution."

Sears Canada seems serious about succeeding. We've been told by someone close to the company that we can expect other innovations under their CEO, Calvin MacDonald. We'll report on more Sears activity when received. 

Sears issued two press releases from which this article was written. The link to Buffalo's involvement is here, while the link to ALDO's involvement is here

Sears Canada website:

Buffalo Jeans website:

ALDO website:

Retail Insider on twitter: @retailinsider_

Retail Insider on Facebook: 

Got any retail insider info?

2013: Welcome Back to Retail-Insider!

2013 is going to be a big year for Canadian retail. We're currently collecting information on plenty of new Canadian retail-related projects and news. We've also done some retail research while travelling over the holiday, and we have had discussions with retail analysts in Canada and the US.

In the coming weeks we'll be discussing:
-Target's new Canadian store format, including its smaller floorplates and multi-floor concept,
-Nordstrom's continued Canadian store negotiations, as well as what will be in-store at Canadian Nordstrom stores,
-New luxury and chain retailers coming soon to a Canadian city near you,
-Sears Canada's continued strategy of selling-back store leases, which has also occurred recently in the United States,
-The surprising number of retailers knocking on Winnipeg's door, including some international large-format retailers. (including one American, one Canadian and one from Sweden) and
-The plethora of designer outlet malls to open Canada-wide.

Our website is being re-designed by an outside source and we are waiting to see updates.  The new format may not transfer-over until later in January. In the mean time, we'll be updating Retail Insider daily with 2013 retail news!

(image taken from Etre department store website)

Retail Insider on twitter: @retailinsider_

Retail Insider on Facebook: 

Got any retail insider info?

Sears May Sell More Store Leases. Good For Canada.

Sears Yorkdale, Toronto. Future Nordstrom Location? Image: CityTV
Sears CEO Calvin McDonald appears more willing to entertain offers for Sears store leases. This could provide opportunity for new Nordstrom, Target, Simons and other retailers looking to expand in Canada. 

A Sears insider notes that the company is willing to fight hard to improve its financial position, and has started to divest of some real estate interests. For example, yesterday, Sears sold its stake in a Medicine Hat, Alberta mall for $43million. Yesterday (Wednesday December 12) the store issued a special dividend of $1/share, for a total of $102million. Both show a potentially aggressive move by Sears to go head-to-head with Target. 

To quote Calvin McDonald:

“When people call, our due diligence is to evaluate that conversation. When we evaluate our portfolio of stores and look to find the balance between trading value and real estate value, our focus is very much on trading value in the organization. We are not in discussions with anybody, but we constantly evaluate our portfolio and look for opportunity for value.”

Calvin recognizes the value in Sears Canada's assets and may be willing to shore-up its financial position by divesting some real estate holdings. This is HUGE news, as Sears has some of the best large-format retail real estate in Canada. Sears already sold interest in three store leases for $170million, paving the way for Nordstrom's Canadian entry. We're asking our Sears insider to monitor their situation and with what other store leases they may release. 

Sources: Sears Insider, Financial Post.

Sears Canada website:

Retail Insider on twitter: @retailinsider_

Retail Insider on Facebook: 

Got any retail insider info?

Sears Canada Concentrating on Small Markets: Good News for Nordstrom?

Sears Canada will concentrate on rural and mid-market communities for future growth. These markets provide less competition and, according to Sears Canada CEO Calvin McDonald, will allow Sears to grow like it did initially in its 1950's Canadian inception.

Granted, this isn't the 1950's. But is Calvin on to something? And will Sears Canada give over more prime retail space for Nordstrom's Canadian expansion?

An industry insider speculates Sears will concentrate on smaller markets and suburbs while selling-off its larger downtown and some prime suburban space to increase cashflow. This could pave the way for more Canadian Nordstrom locations. This is speculative and Calvin McDonald, himself, says he wants Sears Canada's flagship location to remain at the Toronto Eaton Centre.
Toronto's Yorkdale Mall includes a 190,000 sq ft Sears. Nordstrom wants it. Image: Wikipedia

An insider at Oxford Properties expressed frustration with Sears' lack of cooperation in releasing some prime leases, including Sears' Yorkdale Shopping Centre location. Nordstrom is said to want it, and Oxford wants to deliver. Yorkdale recently went through a major expansion as we previously reported.

Sears might just become a successful retailer. Sears Canada is using its credit card database to study past consumer spending. It hopes this information will direct it to target shoppers and increase sales.

Sears Canada's customer database was initiated in 1953 and includes about 4.5 million credit card holders. Analysis led to the re-introduction of Sears' Jessica fashion line, and management hopes further analysis will be able to determine consumer wants and needs, including the requirement for a new bed mattress or new shoes, for example.

Sears Canada is struggling financially, and its CEO Calvin McDonald wants to make it profitable by 2014. This is a tall order considering that Sears has reported losses for the past 12 quarters.

Sears CEO Calvin McDonald. Possibly describing Dolly Parton. Image:
Sears is still either #1 or #2 market-share retailer in Canada for such product categories as bed mattresses, women's dresses, men's formal wear and major appliances. At the same times, Sears is significantly reducing its concentration of electronics and toys, deferring to strong Canadian competitors.

We are watching Sears Canada closely, as it may still be a viable Canadian retailer. At the same time, we're rooting for Sears to give up prime retail leases so Nordstrom, Simons and other interested retailers can comfortably continue their Canada-wide expansions in a market with limited retail space.

Sears Canada webiste:

Retail Insider on twitter: @retailinsider_

Retail Insider on Facebook: 

Got any retail insider info?

Sears Canada Re-Brands

Yesterday Sears Canada presented its rebranding strategy. It includes a modified Sears logo and a new marketing campaign including the commercial above. We're not sure if Sears will win-over Canadians but we applaud their efforts. We think Sears would do best by surrendering their 'better mall' leases for Nordstrom (with ample compensation) and we'll leave that decision to their CEO who is busy overhauling the company.
Sears Canada president and CEO Calvin MacDonald describes his vision for merchandising. A store is a “stage for products.” Photo by Vicki Gilhula.

We are posting text from The Toronto Star:

"Sears Canada launches dramatic new rebrand
Francine Kopun 
Business Reporter 
7 November 2012

Sears Canada launched a bouncy new rebrand on Wednesday morning, aimed at wooing back old customers and winning new ones using a mix of nostalgia and emotion.

The new tag line is Make Every Day a Great Day, and plants Sears firmly in the space discount retailer Target hopes to occupy when it opens its first stores in Canada in the spring.

The new campaign uses humour and emotion to reach out to customers.

Sears is celebrating 60 years in Canada. The new commercial features snippets of home movies submitted by Sears associates and plays on the relationship Sears has enjoyed in Canada as a general merchandise department store, selling everything from lawnmowers to lingerie, hockey sticks, hula hoops and bar stools.

The Sears logo isn’t revealed until the end of the ad, after a question pops up on the screen: “Today is a gift. What will you do with it?” 

“When we started thinking about how we were going to refresh our position and talk to our customers, we really started with looking at what we sell,” said CEO Calvin McDonald, who took over the faltering retailer in 2011.

“We sell more wants than needs. What wants deliver is inspiration and emotion, happiness, and that was really the emotion we focused on for our brand and tag line.

“A lawnmower isn’t about cutting grass, it’s about making a soccer field . . . a toaster isn’t just a toaster, it makes a great morning.”

McDonald said he wanted to make the tag line a rallying cry for associates for delivering great service to customers.

The Sears logo will remain basically the same, although the blue has been lightened and a new font, designed uniquely for the rebrand, will replace the older one.

McDonald rolled out the new brand to associates at the Sears Eaton Centre location on Wednesday morning before the store opened for business.

Target has built strong success in the U.S. by focusing on a bright and fun customer experience and great prices for unique goods.

“I think this is a very different campaign, and very different position and tone. The tag is different, the tone, humour and emotion is different. Our service model is different, I think our value proposition is different,” said McDonald.

The campaign was created by the Unitas Reputation Agency, which began working with Sears in May."

Sears Canada website:

Retail Insider on twitter: @retailinsider_

Retail Insider on Facebook: 

Got any retail insider info?

Nordstrom, Simons,Target or Walmart in New Downtown Toronto Mall?

Proposed Oxford Place. Image: Oxford Properties

We have received word that Oxford Properties' proposed new Downtown Toronto shopping centre is already being eyed by retailers such as Nordstrom, La Maison Simons, Target and Walmart. A new 1million square foot shopping centre is being proposed by Oxford (along with convention/office/residential/hotel space and possibly a casino) which may rival The Toronto Eaton Centre for patrons and possibly exceed its size. The mall would be located on a mult-use, 11 acre site beside the Rogers Centre and the CN Tower.

Nordstrom, Simons, Walmart and Target are actively seeking downtown Toronto space and have expressed frustations at lack of retail availability. The Toronto Eaton Centre is space-limited, and Sears doesn't seem willing to give-in to Cadillac Fairview's offer to buy-out its lease for a new flagship Nordstrom store (or for Simons, also eying a chunk of Sears' space). We reported earlier that Nordstrom is seeking 225-270,000 square feet, while Simons wants 100,000+ square feet in Downtown Toronto.

The Toronto Eaton Centre's non-anchor square footage is 582,000 square feet (Sears, Canadian Tire and Best Buy add another 1.035million square feet). The proposed Oxford Place would be around 1 million square feet, making it possibly 'grander' than Toronto's Eaton Centre's non-anchor retail portion. More importantly Oxford Place could become home to substantial anchor-tenants, ranging from lower-end big box retailers to large luxury retailers, depending on what the landlord deems marketable.

Oxford is in the preliminary planning stages of its new project, and we've been told that it is being pressured to bring forward its planning application to Toronto City Hall 'asap' by potential tenants desperately seeking large downtown retail spaces. We will keep you updated on what might become a very exciting Canadian retail development.

Oxford Properties website:

Toronto Eaton Centre website:

La Maison Simons website:

Retail Insider on twitter: @retailinsider_

Retail Insider on Facebook: 

Got any retail insider info?

New Holt Renfrew Store for Sherway Gardens in Toronto

Rendering of New Holt Renfrew, Sherway Gardens (note name of store modified by Cadillac Fairview for 'legal purposes')

Holt Renfrew will open a new 102,000 square foot (gross square footage) store in the expanded north-end of Toronto's Sherway Gardens shopping centre. This will replace its current smaller location in the same mall. Lease plans show a 29,440 square foot floor, a 60,425 square foot 

floor and a 12,000 square foot mezzanine level.

29,440 sq ft level of the new Holt Renfrew, Sherway Gardens (Cadillac Fairview)

60,425 sq ft level of the new Holt Renfrew store, Sherway Gardens plus 'mezzanine' (Cadillac Fairview)

The new store will be located at the North-end expansion of Sherway Gardens, as per the diagram below: 

Sherway Gardens Expansion (Cadillac Fairview)

The current Holt Renfrew store at Sherway Gardens is only 33,670 square feet, meaning the new store will be about tripple its size.

Current Holt Renfrew location in Sherway Gardens (Cadillac Fairview)

Sherway Gardens will continue to operate Sears and The Hudson's Bay Company stores. As mentioned yesterday, Nordstrom will occupy the South-end of the mall currently occupied by Sporting Life. 

This newly expanded Holt Renfrew store will be larger than the expanded Holt Renfrew store opening soon at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Yorkdale's Holt Renfrew will be about 84,000 square feet. 

We will keep you updated on this and other developments!

Holt Renfrew website:

Sherway Gardens website:

Nordstrom website:

Retail Insider on twitter: @retailinsider_

Retail Insider on Facebook:

Got any retail insider info?