After failing to come up with a winning bid to keep Sears Canada in business, executive chairman Brandon Stranzl has resigned as executive chairman.
“In light of the liquidation, his services are no longer required as executive chairman,” the retailer said in a statement Monday that formally announced the closure of all remaining Sears stores in Canada, approved in Ontario Superior court on Oct. 13.
Stranzl was the architect of changes at Sears — including a pared-down look, private labels and more fashionable merchandise in apparel and home decor — that had begun to register small improvements in at least one metric.
While revenue continued to drop at Sears in the last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, same-store sales were up 1.3 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively, excluding online sales.
Same-store sales are a key indicator of retail health, signalling whether business is up or down at stores open more than a year.
“Over the past 18 months, Sears Canada had embarked on a reinvention plan that had begun to gain traction with customers. Unfortunately, despite the outstanding efforts of dedicated associates across the Company, Sears Canada does not have the financial resources to provide it with the time necessary to complete its reinvention,” according to the news release from Sears.
Stranzl could not be reached for comment Monday.
It was a loosely held secret that it was Stranzl who donated at least $300,000 to start an employee hardship fund for Sears workers experiencing financial duress after being terminated by Sears.
A small window of opportunity has been left open for other possible offers, but seems unlikely after Stranzl, who knew the business and who, during his days as a research analyst specialized in identifying and researching investment opportunities in distressed companies, was unable to put one together.
Stranzl became executive chairman of Sears in July, 2015, following the departure of president and chief executive officer Ron Boire, who had been in the job less than nine months.
Sears Canada said it expects to start its liquidation sales Thursday. The court ordered that the sales be terminated no later than Jan. 21.
The company also announced that as of Oct. 18 it will no longer be in a position to honour Sears Protection Agreements to customers. Refunds on protection agreements will be allowed to customers that have purchased them within the past 30 days.
Most merchandise normally sold by Sears comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, which will remain available to customers directly from the manufacturers.
Servicing on furniture and mattresses under the Guardsman (Valspar) protection plan will continue to be honoured.
The Company will continue to accept Sears gift cards and redeem Sears Club Points during the liquidation period.
During the liquidation period, all sales will be final and not returnable or exchangeable.
Sears Canada currently has 74 full department store locations, eight Sears Home Stores, and 49 Sears Hometown stores.