Sears CEO visits Avalon Mall

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Retailer commits to N.L. staff levels, says St. John’s top store in country

Sears Canada CEO Doug Campbell and a collection of over half a dozen of the company’s senior managers were at the Avalon Mall on Thursday, meeting with staff and reviewing the inner workings of the operation.

Doug Campbell, CEO of Sears Canada, was at the Avalon Mall location for a visit. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

It is the company’s No. 1 store in Canada in terms of overall sales.

“I think its been eight, 10 years since the headquarters team has come out to St. John’s, so it’s one of the first things when I took over ... I said

St. John’s has got to be on our list,” he said, speaking with The Telegram.

Sears announced more than 2,200 layoffs in January, closing call centres and reducing staff at warehouses while making changes to management. The layoffs have drawn plenty of questions about the future of the retailer.

For that vision, Campbell suggested, look no further than the most easterly store in North America, where the company maintains a relationship with the community, a name recognition that draws returning customers, particularly for grab-and-go staple clothing and large purchases like appliances, where people want to touch before they buy.

Sears has seen double-digit growth online, he said. “But we recognize that customers want to shop in both ways. So some customers want to go to the stores and some people want to go online. So we have to make the right investments in the right place.”

The right investments for in-store sales, for company growth, will draw in the middle-class consumer, he said. That is the person looking for product lines that are not luxury pricing, but also not “cheap” quality; the winter coat that’s warm, but still reasonably priced.

“Every market is different. And it’s one of the things that I’ve learned living in Canada for the last three years is that every single community, every market is different — what’s important to them, what’s not important to them in terms of merchandise,” he said.

In that sense, he suggested, with a touch of the salesman, the trip to St. John’s was research.

“Seeing things is a lot different than looking on a piece of paper. Looking somebody in the eye, shaking their hand and asking what’s working and what’s not working is so much more effective than a report that a CFO gives you.”

In terms of what remains in those CFO reports, he was asked if Sears Canada employees, specifically in this province, might still see layoffs in the next year.

“I don’t think that we’ll see any changes in Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said. “We’re looking at how we can grow this business.”



Organizations: Sears Canada

Geographic location: Canada, America, Newfoundland and Labrador

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  • Richardot
    June 14, 2014 - 09:52

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  • Observer
    February 14, 2014 - 11:57

    Canadian retailers like Sears, Winners, etc. , don't get it. They don't realize what a gold mine they have here, in St. John's especially, but also in places like Gander and Clarenville. I live in Toronto and come here in the summer and I see the difference first hand. Most notable is the lack of merchandise, as was stated here by other commentators. Merchandise flies off the shelves and it isn't restocked quickly enough to meet the huge demand. You guys could be making a fortune here but you don't seem to know that we even exist!! There is a lot of disposable income here and will be long into the future. There is very, very little competition. Wal Mart?? Puh! You have the name recognition and a well-established history through the catalogue. Get your act together, open your eyes to the huge potential here, get the merchandise HERE, not in Toronto or Belleville. Right now the retail landscape in St. John's is barren. Give us good stuff to buy, and lots of it, along with good service, reliable access to large appliances and good prices. Retailers should be beating a path to our door. People who travel do their shopping outside the province where there is wider selection and way more choice for fashionable clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. I've been saying this for years. I'm glad to have the ear of a CEO who can actually make a difference. Bring it on!!

    • david
      February 14, 2014 - 12:16

      Maybe they ---- being experienced, trained professionals--- do 'get it'. And Newfoundlanders, grossly unqualified observers of the world living in a self-centered delusion, don't.

  • mainlander
    February 14, 2014 - 11:18

    Probably the cleanest & most organized that store has ever been .Between customers that go through the place like a bull in a china shop and lack of staff to clean up after them, the place is a disaster zone where you can't find anything. If The Bay was here, Sears would be in big trouble.

  • david
    February 14, 2014 - 10:19

    It's funny...people whine and moan about every store here. Nothing is good enough for the "nouveau Newfie" ---- a very sophisticated and discerning consumer. The fact is that, even on its very best day (ie. right now), this place is an economic rounding error at the edge of nowhere. You think you deserve to have a Pearson International airport, an NHL team, and Michelin-rated restaurants. Look out the window, and give your head a shake. Oil is $100 a barrel, and that's the only reason anyone knows this place even exists. And you don't build a church for Easter Sunday.

    • Stephen
      February 14, 2014 - 20:07

      Yet here we have another internet hero, hiding being a computer.

    • david
      February 15, 2014 - 11:43

      Stephen: You lose 2 points. Personal attack, and for not adding anything to the conversation. But you get one point for brevity, and 5 for irony. Good job.

  • Mount Pearl Guy
    February 14, 2014 - 09:50

    I would suggest that despite Sears Avalon Mall being #1 in sales they should still look at how disorganized and out of date that store is.

  • Jack
    February 14, 2014 - 09:02

    There is a common theme starting to emerge in these comments....get some merchandise houseed in your warehouse here in NL!!!! waiting 6 weeks for a stove or fridge??? That is to Cohen's we go!

    • Stephen
      February 14, 2014 - 16:48

      Where you will wait 12 weeks instead

  • Sears Fan
    February 14, 2014 - 08:35

    Great to see the CEO and hi-level managers here to chat with the troops. I know a few employees at Sears and their take on this is that Sears is committed to enhancing its status here. Lots of positive feedback, not a typical in-and-out visit just to say they were here. I've always found excellent quality in the things I have bought throughout the years. My bet is that Sears will be around for many years!

  • Sears Fan
    February 14, 2014 - 08:33

    Great to see the CEO and hi-level managers here to chat with the troops. I know a few employees at Sears and their take on this is that Sears is committed to enhancing its status here. Lots of positive feedback, not a typical in-and-out visit just to say they were here. I've always found excellent quality in the things I have bought throughout the years. My bet is that Sears will be around for many years!

  • Terry Walsh
    February 14, 2014 - 07:47

    I recognize that Sears in St. John's would be number one considering they really don't have any competition. Walmart sell mostly Chinese made garbage that fall apart and if the past 2 Christmas season's that I have gone to their stores is any indication it is easy to see why Sears is number one. Walmart Stores were empty compared to years ago when you would have to fight to get merchandise, not any more. I also agree that it is about time Sears started to warehouse product here as I have walked away 4 times in the past 12 months as I was looking to buy a new refrigerator and they didn't have it on the floor and could only show me a photo on line and I am a visual shopper I like to see what I am buying.

  • Tony
    February 14, 2014 - 07:46

    Not hard to understand why Sears is closing stores all over Canada. Their #1 store for sales and it took head office 10 years to go check out what makes thatt. Store work while even Toronto cant support their Eaton center location. Piece of advice to Sears Canada. Replace your head office team begore your company is done.

    February 14, 2014 - 07:02

    I think if we had The Bay here.. Sears would not be number 1 store. I think The Bay is Sear's #1 competitor.

  • Sears Shopper (sometimes)
    February 14, 2014 - 06:48

    It is great to hear Mr. Campbell is here. Also interesting that our store is #1 in sales. However, my comment is about how much more potential sales they have lost, due to merchandising practices. In recent memory I have went to Sears to buy a stove and a mattress set. In both cases I walked away because of the time it would take to be ordered and shipped here. If the items had been available within a day or two, like some other national retailers here, Sears would have had even more sales. Understanding "lost sales" is also important. Continued good luck to them though!