Sears Canada plans to shutter another Winnipeg location.

The struggling retail chain announced plans Friday night to close another 11 stores across the country, including its location at the Polo Park shopping centre.

The 11 closures include 10 full-line Sears department stores and one Sears Home store.

The plan must be approved by a judge on Tuesday before it can proceed.

The announcement comes barely three months after the chain revealed it would close its outlet store at Winnipeg's Garden City Shopping Centre and 58 other stores, putting approximately 2,900 people out of work. The latest closures will put a further 1,200 employees on the unemployment line, leaving the chain with a workforce of approximately 11,500.

A Toronto-based spokesperson for Sears Canada said the Polo Park closure will put 159 people, mostly part-time employees, out of work. Eighty-one employees at the Garden City store are similarly affected. That store, along with the others marked for closure in June, will shut its doors for the final time on Sunday night.

The spokesperson said the proposed closures are the only way forward for the company, as it tries to survive until a buyer can be found.

"It's been most unfortunate all the way through this process," he said Saturday. "It's extremely unfortunate, it's very troubling and it's affecting a lot of good people."

The chain has seen its revenue drop in recent years, due in part to increased online competition and an evolving retail marketplace. 

If the judge approves the company's plans, the affected stores would likely begin liquidating stock almost immediately. The Sears spokesperson suggested there would be a three-month timeline before the doors close for good at the various locations.

Sears has been at Polo Park since the mall's inception in 1959.

Peter Haven, general manager for CF Polo Park, said he learned of the news about the same time as everybody else did on Friday night.

"I'm surprised. The Sears store at Polo Park is a good store for them. It's sad to see a great Canadian retailer slide down," said Haven.

"We definitely feel for the staff that works at the Sears store. We have a great relationship with them. It's always been a great place to go, a lot of smiling and friendly faces."

Shoppers' reactions range

Shoppers at Polo Park on Saturday had a range of opinions on the store's planned closure.

"If it's closing here, it would be a disaster," said Krissi Khurmi. "Sears should be here. We have a Sears closing in Garden City, too. And now here? That would be hard. We do a lot of shopping here."

"Having all the employees lose their jobs and things is pretty terrible," said Chelsea Ware. "My mom really loves the store, so she's kind of upset about it."

Not every shopper is sad to see it go, however.

"I think it's great that it's closing," said Trisha Munce. "I think [the store] is kind of depressing. There aren't that many people in it, and I think when you go into a store you want to feel uplifted, you want to spend money."

"Department stores like Sears and Eaton's and the Bay, people don't shop like that anymore," said Rob Boyko. "Every business needs to change with the times."

Challenging space

Haven said it's too soon to know what might eventually replace Sears in the space, which measures more than 100,000 square feet.

"Any space that size is always challenging [to fill]. However, given the great strength of [mall owner] Cadillac Fairview … I feel very confident that we'll be able to bring something to market that really resonates with the Winnipeg community."

Other Sears stores affected in the latest announcement are located in B.C., Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sears' locations at Kildonan Place and St. Vital Centre were not directly affected by the Friday announcement.

Corrections

  • We initially reported that Sears planned to close 10 more stores across Canada. In fact, there are 11 closures, including 10 full-line Sears department stores and one Sears Home store.
    Oct 03, 2017 7:47 PM CT
  • We initially reported that Eaton's was one of Polo Park's original anchor tenants. In fact, the Eaton's at Polo Park opened in 1968, while Sears Canada was a founding partner of the mall when it opened in 1959.
    Oct 02, 2017 2:51 PM CT