Manitoba

Sears sells off former Garden City location for $8M

Struggling chain signs deal for shuttered store with Winnipeg mall owners

Kevin Engstrom - CBC News

October 06, 2017

Sears Canada closed its outlet store in Winnipeg's Garden City area on Sunday, Oct. 1. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

They've liquidated all their stock from the store, and now they've sold off the space.

Sears Canada has sold the space it formerly occupied at Garden City Shopping Centre to the Winnipeg mall's owners, RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust and Bayfield Realty Advisors, for $8 million.

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The deal comes just days after Sears closed the doors at its Garden City outlet store for the final time, putting 81 people out of work.

The purchase of the 92,500-square-foot space will allow the mall's ownership to control the entire Garden City Shopping Centre building and all of its access points, a statement reads. It will also simplify the property's ownership structure if and when redevelopment opportunities present themselves at the space.

The mall is already in the midst of a $9-million renovation that, amongst other things, expands the food court area and improves its energy efficiency. It's unknown what the mall's ownership might have planned for the Sears space, as officials at RioCan in Toronto declined requests for comment on Friday.

'Think outside the box'

Fang Wan, a marketing professor with the University of Manitoba's Asper School of Business, said it would be an uphill struggle for the mall to replace Sears with a similarly large tenant in this day and age.

"I really feel this is an area where the management of the mall should think outside the box and be more creative and collaborative about it," said Wan. "I think [finding] a gigantic store to replace a Sears is difficult."

At Winnipeg's Kildonan Place shopping centre, a number of stores filled the space left behind by Target Canada's closure in 2015. Wan said that's a template the owners of the Garden City mall should consider.

They should also see Sears' departure from the mall as an opportunity to reshape it.

As for Sears, the chain's future remains very much in doubt as it struggles to stay afloat. The Garden City store was one of 59 locations across the country that were shut down last weekend — closures which were first announced in June.

Another 11 stores — including its Polo Park location — will close in the coming months as part of its restructuring plan, the retailer announced last weekend.

The Polo Park closure, likely to come after a months-long liquidation sale, will affect 159 employees. In total, about 4,100 Sears employees across the country have lost or will lose jobs from the two rounds of closures as the chain fights to remain in business. 

Wan said she understands why shoppers have turned away from the chain.

"The whole format itself is depressing," she said. "In today's world, we want the space to be visually appealing. We want to have this aesthetic pleasure. And I really think stores and malls need to work very hard on that."

Sears Canada has until Oct. 13 to assess a revised bid from a buyer group led by its executive chair, Brandon Stranzl, or face liquidation in the coming weeks.

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