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A sign announces a closing-down sale at Sears Canada’s flagship Toronto store in the Eaton Centre.The Canadian Press

Sears Canada Inc. is cutting another 624 jobs after having shaved 1,628 earlier this month and almost the same number last year as the retailer struggles to turn around its flagging operations.

It said in a release after the markets closed that it will let go an average of five staff in each store, as well as revamp its regional and head office structures to reflect the shrunken new store model and improve efficiencies.

"The changes we are making in stores will not affect the number of front-line associates [staff], and service to our customers will not be impacted," said Doug Campbell, chief executive officer at Sears Canada.

"Our current structure results in inefficiencies and barriers to effective communication among store associates and the changes we are making are designed to result in better store execution and consistency of presentation and standards."

He said the company continues to plan for the future of Sears and "taking steps today that will allow us to continue serving customers as a viable national retailer."

The decision follows the company's move earlier this month to outsource jobs in three call centres to IBM, in a cost-cutting move that will affect 1,345 employees over the next nine months. In addition, it said it will immediately let go 283 employees at four logistics centres in Calgary, Montreal, Belleville, Ont. and Vaughan, Ont.

The cuts left Sears with just over 20,000 staff, down from about 24,000 a year ago and 31,000 two years ago, as the retailer finds new ways to operate more efficiently, a Sears spokesman said at the tim.

Sears is feeling the pressure to shrink its staff and close stores in an increasingly intense retail landscape. But even after having sold back leases of some of its most high-profile stores to landlords and laying off employees, it struggled over the crucial holiday shopping season to shore up business.

Also earlier this month, it said its Canadian sales at stores open a year or more dropped 4.4 per cent in the period from Nov. 3, 2013, to Jan. 6. Those sales are a key measure that strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores.

U.S. parent Sears Holdings Corp. said it expects an adjusted fourth-quarter loss of between $213-million (U.S.) and $316-million, or $2.01 to $2.98 per share. For the year, it sees an adjusted loss between $811-million and $914-million, or $7.64 to $8.61 per share.

Two analysts surveyed by FactSet had projected a profit of 38 cents per share for the fourth quarter and a loss of $6.80 for the year, on average. Sears Canada will report its full fourth quarter results on Feb. 26, when it is expected to provide details of the financial effects of the latest cuts.

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