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Sears opens refreshed Ontario stores PDF Print E-mail
Written by HGO Staff   

TORONTO (28 May 2012) - Sears Canada has opened what it describes as "it's new, refreshed store concept" in four Ontario locations, including Barrie, Belleville, Newmarket and at the Lime Ridge Mall in Hamilton.

In a statement, the publicly-held, multi-channel retailer said these stores are evidence of its renewed commitment to customer service and are representative of its new thinking in regards to store layout and merchandising.

The changes in the stores include: wider aisles, less clutter and streamlined merchandise offerings. All four stores feature expanded apparel assortments in all major categories including baby, children, women's and men's wear. Also on display is a new look for its Craftsman brand of power equipment as well as what it describes as a "market-leading assortment of major appliances and mattresses."

However, most analysts said the new stores, which opened last Friday, weren't a radical transformation. Rather Sears Canada president and chief executive officer Calvin McDonald has literally borrowed a number of merchandising techniques favoured by boutique stores.

At least one of the stores - at Newmarket's Upper Canada Mall - now has an assortment of some 300 major appliances in addition to 44 mattresses. These two are one of a core group of "hero categories" that McDonald has designated as part of his three-year plan to re-energize Sears Canada in the face of the planned entry of Target into the Canadian market in early 2013 and heightened competition from other retailers such as Wal-Mart Canada.

The consumer electronics assortment is being cut back by as much as 40%. Sears will focus on televisions while discontinuing most other home entertainment products.

"Our goal with the refreshed stores is to create a stage for product in an authoritative way to make it easier for our customers to shop for the items they expect from Sears and to demonstrate our leadership in the marketplace," McDonald said in a statement. "Along with a renewed commitment to customer service, our new return policy and over 5,000 lower prices, our refreshed stores demonstrate another way that Sears is doing its best to do what's best for our customers."

McDonald is planning other changes in the short term, including appointing a new advertising change to replace the Toronto-based BBDO. The new agency will be charged with repositioning the Sears brand to urge customers "to have another look at Sears," he said, adding he's also thinking about having a new logo created while noting the current now is a bit conservative.

"We don't want to alienate our loyal customers, but we want to signal to new customers that it's a fresh start," McDonald said in an interview with a major daily newspaper.

He also indicated that should the four refreshed stores perform well, he hopes to begin the process at an additional six or so locations before the end of the year.

In total, Sears Canada's location portfolio includes 196 corporate stores across the country, as well as its dealer stores, home showrooms, travel offices and catalogue locations across the country.

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