Sears Canada (TSX:SCC) is looking to get its retail rhythm back with the grand opening of the largest Sears Home store ever, filling 79,000 square feet of the old Ikea store in the Pinecrest Shopping Centre.
Calvin McDonald, Sears Canada president and CEO, speaks at a ceremony to launch the expanded Sears Home in the Pinecrest Shopping Centre. (Supplied photo)
Doors officially opened at 10 a.m. Thursday morning after a ceremony celebrating the move of Sears Pinecrest from the tiny store - which was already the No. 1 sales volume Sears Homes store in all of Canada, with $25 million in annual appliance sales - to its new, more specialized location.
The $2 million move is part of an effort by the struggling Canadian company to focus on its strengths.
"We're a retailer that lost its retail rhythm," said Sears Canada president and CEO Calvin McDonald in an interview with OBJ. "We can't continue to perform the way we're performing."
Walking into the store is like an Ikea flashback: open concept showrooms with wide aisles and modern signage.
Featuring furniture, more than 110 Energy Star appliances and the largest selection of mattresses in any Sears, the new home store excludes electronics and toys.
New high tech offerings include scannable QR codes on all major appliances, store associates equipped with iPads, and a bed pressure mapping system that customers lie down upon so a computer can match them with the best mattress.
But as the doors open at the new location, the 240,000-square-foot store at the Rideau Centre will close by the end of October, along with locations in Vancouver and Calgary. The Rideau location's demise came from its inability to find a balance between its hard goods such as appliances and soft goods such as clothing Mr. McDonald said, whose first job was as a Sears catalogue delivery boy.
No jobs will be lost from the three store closures, with employees given the option to work at a different location.
The new Sears location leaves 18,000 square feet of unused retail space from the previous Ikea site, which will soon be home to terra20, a retail store selling eco-friendly products. Its first store will open this August, according to its website, with plans to open other locations across the country later in the year.
A couple of stores down lies a Corbeil Appliances, and the Ikea-style layout seems to place them in direct competition with their nearest neighbours. But Mr. McDonald said he welcomes the challenge and that the company differentiates itself with its policy to service what they sell and provide a 90-day price beat guarantee.
"(Sears) is superior versus anyone else," he said. "We do so many things great, and we need to make sure people think of us."
Even while operating in the smaller store four feet away from the new Ikea, the Pinecrest Sears store still managed to keep its ranking as the best selling Sears Home store in the country.
"The team did this amongst the noise, the dust, the leaks and the parking lot congestion (of the Ikea construction)," said Stephen Booth, store manager of the new location.
Leftover products from the old location were donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa and included $300,000 of furniture, appliances and televisions, on top of a $10,000 cheque presented by Sears Canada at the grand opening event.
The company posted a healthy net profit in the first quarter of 2012 despite declining sales because of a pre-tax gain on lease terminations from its three closing locations.
In the National Capital Region, Sears also has locations at the St. Laurent Centre, Carlingwood Mall and across the Ottawa River in Hull and Aylmer.