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Sears sells Cantrex to Nationwide, keeps white goods specialist Corbeil PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael J. Knell   

TORONTO (25 April 2012) - In a long anticipated announcement, Sears Canada will sell Cantrex Group to Nationwide Marketing Group, the largest furniture, mattress and appliance buying group in the United States. However, Sears will retain ownership of appliance specialist Corbeil Electrique. The acquisition is expected to close at the end of the month.

Nationwide is already the largest furniture, mattress, appliance and electronics buying group in the United States with some 3,000 independent members enjoying annual retail sales of roughly US$12 billion. At the end of Sears Canada's last fiscal year, Cantrex had 799 members operating about 1,200 outlets, with estimated retail sales of C$2 billion.

Like Cantrex, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, based Nationwide is a non-member owned service provider.

In a statement, Nationwide noted it has enjoyed a long-standing collaborative relationship with the Cantrex's senior management team and believes this agreement will prove to be an excellent opportunity to further increase the group's scale, improve efficiencies and enhance member services.

"Adding billions of dollars to our buying power with the stroke of a pen is a good thing for our members and another exciting step in Nationwide's continued growth," Nationwide president Robert Weisnerm said in a statement. "We look forward to finalizing the transaction by month's end and additional details will be provided as they become available."

Nationwide chief operating officer Les Kirk added: "Both Nationwide and Cantrex bring assets to the relationship that will be leveraged to benefit the members of both groups. The synergy between these two companies is incredible and we were immediately impressed with their leadership team. We expect a fairly seamless transition and look forward to continued growth for our members, vendor partners and our organization."

Sears Canada acquired Cantrex in 2005. At the time, Brent Hollister, then president and CEO of the multi-channel retailer, called it "a strategic acquisition that will provide Sears Canada with an opportunity to further develop its merchandising, buying and logistics services in the furniture and appliances sectors."

A couple of years later, Sears shifted Corbeil out of Cantrex's corporate structure and into its own. In a statement, Sears said it will bring the 30-unit, Quebec-based Corbeil banner to Ontario, opening four pilot stores in and around the Greater Toronto Area. The first is expected to open in June, followed by another in each of July, August and September.

The administrative operations of Cantrex have been housed in Sears Canada's facilities in Montreal, Vancouver and the Toronto suburb of Vaughan. Cantrex staff members will continue to use these facilities, so there will be no immediate impact upon their day-to-day duties.

"We are grateful to all our associates involved with Cantrex over the years, and proud of how the organization has established itself as a leader in the marketplace," said Peter Kalen, senior vice president of Sears Financial and Home Services. "Nationwide represents the best in the industry and Cantrex fits perfectly with their business. We wish them all the best in the future."

Kalen has also been serving as president of Cantrex since the departure of Alain Masse at the end of December 2010.

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