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The Globe and Mail

Sears Canada sees decline in sales of electronics, decor, clothing

A woman walks her dog past the Sears store in downtown Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 2, 2012.


Sears Holdings Corp. says its Canadian subsidiary had reduced sales of electronics, home decor, hardware and clothing in the first quarter and could see a loss when its full financial report is released.

The Chicago-area retail company released the preliminary report Tuesday, along with figures from its U.S. operations, ahead of the Sears Holdings annual shareholders meeting.

It said that Sears Canada had a 6.2-per-cent decline in comparable-store sales in the first quarter. The declines in certain types of merchandise were partially offset by increases in major appliances and mattresses.

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Sears Holdings also said the Canadian operations would drag down overall profit.

Total adjusted earnings for Sears Holdings for the quarter are estimated at between $135 million (U.S.) and $195 million, with U.S. domestic operations contributing between $165 million and $195 million.

At the worst end of the estimate, the Canadian operation will have an adjusted loss of $30 million and at best Sears Canada will break even on an adjusted basis.

Sears Canada issued a statement from Toronto acknowledging the preliminary report by its parent but noted the two companies use different accounting standards. The Canadian financial report is to be released May 16.

The company recently announced that three high-profile department stores in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa would close by the end of October affecting some 670 jobs. It will reduce the number of brands it sells in its stores to 20 from 90.

Sears has been working to revamp its struggling Canadian operations, cutting jobs, decluttering stores and making other changes.

The company has been testing out four new concept store formats customized to different markets, with pilot projects slated to be opened later this year.

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Sears has roughly 30,000 employees across Canada and more than 400 corporate, dealer and home services stores.

Sears Canada Inc. also recently announced a deal to sell its Cantrex Group operations to Nationwide Marketing Group as it continues to restructure its operations. Sears Canada bought Cantrex, a buying group that provides merchandising services for hundreds of retail outlets across Canada, and Corbeil in 2005.

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