Friday, October 13, 2017

Sears Looks to Close Remaining Stores

Sears St. Vital
And then there were none.

Coming on the heels that Polo Park Sears will close is the news that St. Vital Sears and Kildonan Sears are also closing. The three Sears closing with mean the loss of over 350 jobs in Winnipeg and leave large spaces to be filled in the top malls in the province.

Garden City Sears Outlet recently closed with the loss of 81 jobs. More than a year ago Sears closed closed their Home Store on St. James. The Brandon Hometown store around the same time. Liquidation will begin and end before the end of the year.

In 2018, the entire Sears company will cease to exist. The total loss of stores in Canada will cost 15,000 people their jobs will leave massive holes in malls that are still trying to fill space after Target closed. Across Canada Sears as of this week the company has 74 department stores, 8 Sears Home Stores and 49 Sears Hometown stores.

When Sears opened as Simpsons Sears at Polo Park, it once had 600 employees. It was the anchor of the mall and at 260,000 square feet it has a huge footprint. St. Vital Sears is 132,000 square feet and Kildonan Place Sears is 126,000 square feet. The recently closed Garden City Sears Outlet store was 92,000 square feet.

It would appear one company would like to take 50,000 square feet of space of the Garden City Sears location. It is not certain what that company is but the rumours have been that a grocery has been looking around.

Garden City has been in need of a freshening up for sometime and Sears was holding it back. The Northgate Mall nearby had seriously upped its game with Save on Foods and massive work has transformed the mall. In the next year Garden City will probably have the makeover it has needed for a very long time..

When Zellers closed in Polo Park after Target came to Canada, the mall embarked on re-purposing the space to multiple store that had been waiting a long time to get in the mall. The end result was a $49 million horeshoe extension and 22 new stores including a return of the Disney store.

The problem with Sears Polo Park is that is a few floors and one heckuva a lot more space. Rumour has it that Nordstrom's and Simon's have been looking at the space in the event that Sears closed. The owner of the mall will have to decide how they want to configure the mall for maximum effect. It seems impossible that the cost to do this will around the same as the Zellers conversion. Expect a bold and costly change and some exciting announcements.

Kildonan Place just finished re-purposing the closed Target space. They now have an H&M, Home Sense and Marshals store in the old space. Managers of the mall must be thinking: Not again. It is possible that the mall will simply convert the space again and find smaller retailers to come to the mall. However, maybe there is a larger store interested in part of the space.

Of all the malls, it may be that St. Vital is in the best position to use Sears space quickly. The mall went through an extensive re-freshening last year and save for a few spaces here and there, is ripe for certain retailers to move in. Simply put, there is no room in the region for anyone to build in the area. There is no telling what will go in the space but expect a competition from retailers to grocers to movie theatre companies to gyms to put proposals in. One retailer want to use the lease 25,000 square feet of the second floor at the mall. It remains to be seen if they have the inside track.

All in all Manitoba should fare better than other provinces looking to fill space of old Sears. Many small towns still are struggling from closed Zellers and Targets. The only spot in Winnipeg with a still vacant Target is Polo Park but it isn't awaiting a buyer. The mall already owns the spot. However, with the fate of Sears in the mall. That is what the top retailers are looking at. Once that has been decided, the attractiveness of the old Target Polo Park location only grows.

It is tragic that the loss of Sears in Winnipeg will put so many out of work. It has been a while since many people have stepped into a Sears. Bad management killed the company. This province will overcome the loss. It will hurt many others far longer.

No comments: