Sears Canada reaches out to affected Target workers

Discussion
Jan 20, 2015

Sears Canada is inviting Target employees to apply for open jobs at Sears Canada stores. The company is also offering for a limited time the same employee discount that its own workers get to laid-off Target employees.

Last week, Target said it would shutter its 133 stores in Canada and liquidate its operations there after racking up losses in the area of $2 billion in under two years. About 17,600 workers were affected. The stores will close in May.

"In recognition of the challenging retail landscape and yesterday’s announcement regarding the exit of Target from the Canadian market, Sears Canada wishes to do something meaningful to help employees affected by store closings and job losses and to do so in a respectful manner," Sears Canada said in a statement.

Target Canada employees are being encouraged to visit Sears Canada Careers site to look for jobs and find information on local job fairs and other career events. An open invitation to Target Canada head office employees for a meet-and-greet with Sears executives and human resources experts was also set for Jan. 21 at the Sears head office located at the Toronto Eaton Centre.

"To help employees during this time of uncertainty," Sears Canada will also offer affected Target Canada employees the Sears Canada employee discount for a period of 16 weeks. This discount is 25 percent on soft goods and 15 percent on hard goods and applies to both regular and sale prices with some exceptions.

In an interview with BNN (Business News Network), Ronald Boire, Sears Canada’s acting president and CEO, criticized Target for not tailoring assortments to local interests. He said, "You can’t just cookie cutter a strategy into the market and have it play out the way you want."

Sears Canada, which is being spun off from Sears Holdings, has also struggled up north for many years. In November, the company reported same-store sales fell 9.5 percent for the third quarter while posting a wider loss.

Although Target was apparently not compelled to do so since it filed for the Canadian equivalency of bankruptcy protection to enact the store closures, the company took the unusual step of creating a $70-million fund to pay most employees a minimum of 16 weeks severance.

Will Sears Canada derive much benefit, whether from consumers or its own staffing, from its outreach to Target employees? Should other retailers in the area follow suit?

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17 Comments on "Sears Canada reaches out to affected Target workers"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

First of all, the employees it may pick up ought to be super-loyal.

Next, it is great public relations. Who wouldn’t want to support a retailer willing to support one’s neighbors in their time of need?

As to other retailers, you rarely get points for being the second, third, fourth or whatever company concerned about its community. Sears Canada looks like a leader, everyone else will look like they are trying to climb on the bandwagon.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Let me get this right, Sears is giving advice on how to be successful in retail …

And Sears is trying to act the good guy when last month I read Sears Canada would be closing over 100 Stores, laying off 5,457 workers

This seems like a fairly transparent publicity grab, and I don’t think it works.

The Target Canada collapse will get their own chapter in future textbooks of business schools around the world, right after Ron Johnson’s epic fail at J.C. Penney. And while the playbook isn’t finished, I expect the sorry story of Sears to be there too.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

I think it’s a nice touch. Very Canadian, actually.

Separately, it seems as though this is going to be the year of the store employee. The constant pecking at Walmart has made a dent—the company is voluntarily upping their minimum wage, as Gap already did.

It makes a lot of sense. It’s not possible to create a satisfying in-store experience with dissatisfied personnel. Think about the now epic “Wet Seal” sign in Seattle. Employees have found their voice, and will continue to make some noise. Inviting them to join a different retailer when the existing one closes is a great way to make that a joyful, rather than a howling noise.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

This is possibly the best PR opportunity Sears has had in many years. They will derive a huge benefit from this from the public. Plus they are going to get the best of the employees laid off by Target. This is a tremendous move that will be a benefit to Sears for a long time.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

First, Target has treated its laid-off employees with much more decorum than Wet Seal seems to have done, and kudos to them.

Sears Canada not only generates loads of good will by reaching out to Target employees, but also stands to gain valuable experience at the same time. Everyone wins. Best feel-good retail story of the year (so far!).

Robert DiPietro
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Sears Canada will probably pick up some seasoned staff as Target exits Canada, but more importantly they should be “targeting” sales. While the Target stores didn’t perform, they have many categories that overlap with Sears and those sales have to go somewhere. Sears should be actively soliciting those customers and seeing if they can pick up some of those sales.

David Livingston
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Sounds like this is just for the press release. I doubt Target employees would benefit much by getting a discount at a premium-priced retailer such as Sears. Walmart is probably a better option. Obviously Sears cannot absorb all those employees. I’m sure Sears is expecting an uptick in sales but it won’t be significant. Target was doing such low sales volumes that they will hardly be missed.

Mohamed Amer
Guest
Mohamed Amer
7 years 4 months ago

Sears Canada will gain goodwill in the community (as well as from Target Canada employees) while getting a chance to cherry-pick the Target Canada head office workers.

In a many ways both Target Canada and Sears Canada have demonstrated a high level of care for employees and a strong sense of community through a relatively generous employee severance package in the case of Target Canada and the highly visible reach-out by Sears Canada. Things sure are different up north!

Gordon Arnold
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

This is an excellent example of creating a marketing strategy that benefits a minute portion of the marketplace for a limited amount of time. To make things worse the advertising is aimed at the unemployed. Sears would do much better funding a disaster recovery plan for their own stores and employees. What are they think about upstairs?

Kelly Tackett
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Target demonstrated a lot of class in how it announced and is handling its Canada exit. It is owning its errors and recognizing that because of those errors its employees are going to be hurt financially. The workers fund demonstrates that goodwill.

Given Sears Canada’s own problems, the offer smacks of imitation—a way for Sears to build some goodwill of its own. I will, however, refrain from judgment until I hear some more specifics around how many ex-Target employees Sears actually hires.

Separately, instead of knocking Target’s strategy, Sears Canada’s CEO should be doing a happy dance that a competitor has exited the market and be actively planning on how to deliver an experience that will drive sales growth beyond the short-term impact of a discount to former Target employees.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Sears is likely to benefit from a good deal of good will from consumers for making a helpful gesture. People who get hired will be loyal. Those who do not get hired may well become new or loyal Sears consumers when taking advantage of the discount.

Lee Kent
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

I agree it’s a great PR move but I can’t help hearing that voice in my head saying “out of the kettle and into the fire.”

This will, no doubt, give Sears Canada some much-needed traction for a while but will it be sustainable? And where will that leave said employees?

For my two cents.

Gajendra Ratnavel
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Great move on Sears’ part. Makes them look good to their customers, and allows them to cherry pick the top employees, especially in middle management.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Great publicity. The cost of offering the discounts is very small and may help Sears Canada either secure customers or perhaps employees.

While what Target did is very generous, I doubt that it will get the same play in the press as Sears’ offer. It will be more of a one and done than a series of press releases over the next few weeks.

Naomi K. Shapiro
Guest
Naomi K. Shapiro
7 years 4 months ago

Canadians are nice, eh? I have no problem with the offer from Sears Canada to consider hiring Target people, and give a discount in general—a great way to build goodwill and loyalty and customers—and get positive PR. Nothing wrong with that. I see only upside for this gesture.

Brian Kelly
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Target seems to train its store associates pretty well. Take the best and leave the rest! Poaching best front liners is a tried and true practice.

Shep Hyken
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Sears is stepping up to be a corporate citizen. Good for them. They are opening their doors and hearts to approximately 17,000 employees of another store. I like it. Other retailers may follow suit, but they weren’t the first. Nice move, Sears!

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