News Local

Little choice for Canadian retailer

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

More than 100 employees at the Sears store in Barrie will be out of a job after national headquarters announced Tuesday it's seeking court approval to close all of its stores across the country. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

More than 100 employees at the Sears store in Barrie will be out of a job after national headquarters announced Tuesday it's seeking court approval to close all of its stores across the country. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

More than 100 employees at Barrie's Sears store will be out of a job.

Sears Canada announced Tuesday it is closing up shop, seeking court approval to close all of its stores across the country and lay off about 14,000 employees in total.

Barrie's store has 104 employees, 87 of them part-time. The Bayfield Street North store opened in 1973 and was refurbished in 2012.

“Assuming there's a court order on Friday, liquidations would start at all stores, including the Barrie location, no earlier than the 19th (of October) and we'd continue for between 10 and 14 weeks,” said Joel Shaffer of Longview Communications, speaking for Sears.

“The details regarding liquidation are still being finalized, but if we assume it looks something like it did when Sears announced in late June that 50 stores would be closing, most of the employees would be asked to continue through the liquidation period,” Shaffer said.

Materials supporting the liquidation will be filed publicly later Tuesday, Shaffer said, and Sears is scheduled to be in court Friday.

Shaffer said he did not know about severance packages for Sears employees.

“But the first group that left under CCAA (Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act), those 50 stores, did not receive severance packages under CCAA,” he said, “and I think it's safe to assume that would be the case again, but I don't have that information right now.”

Sears' move came after weeks of discussions with executive chairman Brandon Stranzl to save the money-losing retailer, but the company failed to reach an agreement after his most recent bid last week.

“The company deeply regrets this pending outcome and the resulting loss of jobs and store closures,” said a statement from the retailer. “Following exhaustive efforts, no viable transaction for the company to continue as a going concern was received.”

The liquidation has been recommended by Sears' financial advisors in restructuring and its court-approved bankruptcy monitor, FTI Consulting.

Sears Canada entered bankruptcy protection in June, saying it could not continue to operate without a new source of financing.

Last week, a lawyer for the company told Ontario Superior Court judge Glenn Hainey that there was a “short fuse” to a potential liquidation of the retailer, with the retailer’s court-approved lenders pressing for liquidation of the company’s remaining assets to maximize the value of the process for the company’s creditors, pensioners and employees.

With files by The Canadian Press

bbruton@postmedia.com