New Brunswick

Brian Gallant remains hopeful despite financial troubles of Sears

Premier Brian Gallant remains hopeful the province will have a long relationship with Sears Canada, despite the financial troubles it and Sears Holdings in the United States are experiencing.

Sears Canada is different entity than Sears Holdings in U.S. which admits its future is in doubt, say premier

Premier Brian Gallant appeared at a January news conference where Sears Canada announced 350 jobs at a new call centre in Saint John. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Premier Brian Gallant remains hopeful the province will have a long relationship with Sears Canada, despite the financial troubles it and Sears Holdings in the United States are experiencing.

In January, Gallant announced the province will 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 180-job call centre in Edmundston.

However, Sears Holdings in the U.S. admitted this week its future is in doubt after losing more than $2 billion last year and seeing its shares hit an all-time low in February. Meanwhile, Sears Canada announced Monday it had arranged for a five-year secured term loan of up to $300 million.

Gallant noted Wednesday that while Sears Holdings in the U.S. owns about 12 per cent of Sears Canada, the two operations are separate.

"It clearly [can have] an impact, can have an impact on the brand," said Gallant. "We recognize that.

"But there is still a difference. They are two different entitities.

"We understand that Sears Canada also has challenges, but we actually think that what we're offering to them will help them," he said. "They'll be able to save money and have better services because of it."

Gallant also said, "it's important to note that not one dollar has been given to Sears yet for the job announcements."

The funding for Sears is tied to incentives, with the company not receiving funding until a certain number of jobs are created and in place for a period of time.

"There has been no money that has been given at this point," said Gallant.

"We are still hopeful that Sears Canada, which is a multi-national business that has been around for decades, will be able to continue to invest in New Brunswick and create the jobs that we have talked about. But we are also going to make sure that we protect taxpayers money throughout this process."

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