Remaining Hillside Sears store likely to close

Employee fate unknown as liquidation sales start Oct. 19 but could go months

The clock is ticking on the last remaining Sears location in Greater Victoria as the struggling department store chain has sought permission to close all remaining stores and sell its assets.

Sears Canada already closed the doors on its Tolmie location – one of eight taken over by Leon’s Furniture – earlier this year, following the announcement it would close 59 locations. Sears Canada will apply to the Ontario Superior Court for approval to liquidate all of its remaining stores and assets in a hearing on Friday (Oct. 13).

That includes the Hillside Centre location which has been open since 1969. The move would terminate 110 positions, 79 of them part-time roles.

One Hillside Sears employee declined to talk to the Saanich News but did confirm any liquidation sales will commence as of Oct. 19, which Sears Canada confirmed in a press release.

“We don’t know anything [about our jobs] yet,” the employee said.

Spokesperson Vincent Power said the liquidation of store inventory won’t start until sometime after Oct. 19.

Pending court approval, Hillside will likely stay open for about six weeks, though an employee of the subcontractor that runs a garden centre on site at Hillside said they’ll be removing their assets as soon as possible.

“These are our assets, we’re not waiting to see what happens to them.”

The initial announcement came in June, when Sears announced it would close more than half of its store locations in the midst of court protection and restructuring. The chain has reported significant losses over the past year.

It’s been an even tougher go for Sears Canada employees as the chain reported it would likely be unable to provide severance packages for the 2,900 employees laid off.

In total, Sears is looking to close its 74 remaining “full line” stores, such as Hillside, as well as eight Home stores (furniture and appliances only) and 49 Hometown stores, which are run in small communities.

“We’re hoping our retail employees can bring their experience and their point-of-sale experience to other retailers, it’s certainly a valuable [skill set],” Power said. “These closures have nothing to do with how the [Hillside] team has performed, rather, it’s a sign of the times.”

– With files from Katya Slepian and Ashley Wadhwani

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