Sears may sell Canadian operations


NEW YORK -- Sears is considering selling its Canadian operations as the retailer looks for ways to prop up its sagging business.

The retailer, which operates its namesake stores and Kmart locations, said that it's looking at strategic options for its 51 percent interest in Sears Canada. The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company said this includes the possible sale of its stake or possibly the entire Sears Canada operation.

Sears Canada's board and management plan to cooperate with Sears Holdings as it explores strategic alternatives.

The news comes as Sears Holdings Corp.'s chairman, the billionaire hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert, has been under intense pressure to turn around its business. He took over as CEO in February 2013.

Sears has had trouble adapting as bigger, nimbler rivals such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot have attracted its customers over the years.

Sears is trying to transform itself to into a member-focused business rather than a company that simply runs a store network. Loyal shoppers now receive incentives to buy. But its results have been hurt as it continues traditional promotions while investing in its membership program dubbed Shop Your Way.

Sears previously sold some store leases in Canada. It recently spun off clothing business Lands' End as a separate public company after not having much success with it.

The possible sale of its business north of the border also comes as several U.S. retailers, particularly Target Corp., are having difficulties cracking the Canadian market, about one tenth the size of the U.S. market.

The two countries are neighbors and they are culturally similar. But Canadian stores are grappling with a web of costly regulations and a slower Canadian economy and increasing competition are making the retail landscape look a lot like the U.S. economy.


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