Sears liquidation could put over 200 New Brunswickers out of work
Liquidation would close stores in Fredericton and Moncton, kill call centres in Saint John and Edmundston
More than 200 people will be out of job in New Brunswick if Sears Canada receives court approval to liquidate all of its remaining stores.
Sears Canada announced Tuesday that it plans to seek court approval to liquidate all of its remaining stores and assets, which would see about 130 outlets close and put about 12,000 employees out of work.
That includes Sears' remaining New Brunswick stores in Fredericton and Moncton.
There are 94 employees at the Fredericton location and 111 employees in Moncton, Sears spokesman Joel Shaffer said in an email.
That doesn't include the jobs that two call centres were expected to create.
In January, the provincial government announced that it would provide up to $8.6 million in financial assistance to Sears Canada for it to create a call centre with 350 jobs in Saint John and a centre with 180 jobs in Edmundston.
Call centres to close
If the company receives approval to liquidate, it's fair to assume the two call centres are dead, Shaffer said.
"This is an extremely sad day for all of us and certainly not the outcome we wanted," Shaffer said, adding that the company's decision was a reflection of the state of the retail market, and not the efforts of individual locations.
Both call centres opened earlier this year. In June, Opportunities New Brunswick CEO Stephen Lund said close to 300 people had already been hired and trained between the two centres.
Francine Landry, the minister responsible for Opportunities New Brunswick, said in a statement that no government funds had been advanced to Sears Canada.
Landry said ONB will work closely with affected Sears employees at both the Saint John and Edmundston centres to help them find work.
"This is a very unfortunate situation and we will work closely with the company and the affected employees during this transition period," Landry said.
However, Brian MacDonald, Progressive Conservative MLA for Fredericton West-Hanwell, said Tuesday's news was no surprise given the state of the company, and that the $8.6 million was a bad pledge to make.
"The writing was on the wall a long time ago, and this was not a good investment of taxpayer's money," he said.
'Disappointment' for Edmundston
In an interview Tuesday, Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard said the news was a disappointment for the city.
"I really share the disappointment with all the employees who trained, and had expectations of maybe having a better quality of life based on that," he said.
Though city officials knew the company was "not in the best situation" when the call centres were announced, they were told the call centres were part of a new business model they were trying to implement, Simard said.
"Obviously it didn't turn out the way we expected."
"Even though we had some conflicting views about the fact that the company was struggling somehow, you always want to create better conditions for your citizens."
Sears announced it was closing its Saint John and Bathurst locations in June as part of a national restructuring plan.
The company said it expects the Ontario Superior Court to hear the motion on Oct. 13.
Sears Canada said that if it gets court approval to begin the process, it expects that liquidation sales at its stores would start no earlier than Oct. 19 and continue for 10 to 14 weeks.
Sears Canada has been in court-approved creditor protection since June 22.