May 14, 2014, 10:18 AM

Sears prepares to leave Canada

The Canada arm of the U.S.-based Top 500 retail chain enables online shoppers to pick up orders at more than 1,400 Canadian locations.

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Sears Holdings Corp. might say goodbye to Canada. The U.S.-based retail chain, No. 5 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, says it might sell its majority stake in Sears Canada or sell “Sears Canada as a whole.”

Sears offered no further comment on today’s announcement except to say it “intends to engage an investment banking firm.”

Sears owns 51% of Sears Canada. Other major stakeholders include private investment firm ESL Investments Inc. (17.4%) and Sears’ chairman and CEO Edward S. Lampert (10.2%), according to Sears Canada.

The Canadian arm of the chain recently has been trying to make its e-commerce more attractive to shoppers by giving them the option of having their online orders from Sears.ca shipped to more than 1,400 Sears merchandise pick-up locations. Sears in the United States also has worked to make it easier for online shoppers to pick up orders in stores—including curbside pick-up.

Sears Canada, though, continues to close full-line department stores: five will be closed during the first quarter of 2014 with two more set for shuttering in the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest annual report from Sears Canada.  Same-store sales for Sears Canada decreased to C$833.8 million (US$765.0 million) in the fourth quarter of 2013, down 6.4% from the same period the year before. For 2013, same-store sales decreased 2.7% year over year, to C$2.942 billion (US$2.699 billion).

Sears Canada incorporated in 1952 and operates 116 department stores along with 48 free-standing Sears Home stores that specialize in home furnishings, major appliances and home electronics, plus 11 outlet stores for surplus goods and four appliances and mattresses stores. The company also operates 1,400 merchandise pick-up locations.

According to Top500Guide.com, U.S.-based Sears had Internet Retailer-estimated 2013 web sales of $4.9 billion, up 16.7% from the year before. Sears.com, which launched in 1998, has an average ticket of $150, according to data found on Top500Guide.com. Late last year, Sears announced that it would spin off apparel seller Lands’ End into its own company.

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