Staff, contractors and customers jammed the entrance to Nanaimo Sears for the official unveiling of the renovated store.
The event, staged Friday at Nanaimo North Town Centre, included a ribbon cutting and personal address to store staff from Calvin McDonald, Sears Canada chief executive officer, who flew to Nanaimo from a Sears re-opening event in Grand Prairie, Alta., earlier in the morning.
“What I’ve noticed, just in walking around, this is by far the best looking refresh store I’ve seen,” McDonald said to a cheering crowd of more than 160 employees.
Sections of the store have been hidden behind white tarps since September as departments underwent renovations and re-merchandizing as part of the company’s three-year, Canada-wide refresh program to retool and refocus the company’s marketing on its traditionally successful products and services and bring in new products and programs to strengthen its position in the retail market.
The Nanaimo store is the 11th renovated store in Canada to feature fresh colours, cleaner sight lines and incorporate new merchandising techniques, such as “power towers” and “event hubs” making their ways into Sears stores across Canada.
Power towers and event hubs pull together groups of merchandise, such as home appliances, in settings created under accent lighting to highlight the products’ visual appeal and show the lifestyle benefits of owning the products. The company, which enjoys strong sales in children’s wear, has brought in Carter’s and Oshkosh B’gosh babies and children’s clothing lines and has broadened its adult fashion section to include an extensive selection of men’s business suits.
“With Sears, awareness is not our issue,” McDonald said. “Canadians are aware of Sears, but a big part of our transformation is focusing on driving up that consideration – where we believe we can win, where we believe we are great is what the refresh store really tries to bring to life.”
McDonald would not divulge how much money Sears Canada is investing in its stores.
“We’re spending appropriately,” he said. “We’re changing the complete shopping experience. Our customers are coming in and fundamentally seeing the difference in the store and we’re doing such that we can scale and do more stores. We have 118 full-line stores. We’re at 11 and we want to continue to do that. We’re taking a very pragmatic approach.”
Staff have also participated in months of training programs to market new products and services and McDonald said the Nanaimo store has added a few staff members to its furniture, mattress and appliance departments and that he expected more staff will be added as sales numbers rise.
Thomas Gemma, store manager, thanked staff for the months of hard work they contributed to the store’s transformation.
“A big part of why we’re here today and the way we look is because of you, the associates in the Nanaimo store,” Gemma said. “You’ve made a huge difference and I’d really like to thank you for making this important moment possible for us.”
Furniture and appliances are strong sellers for Sears locally. In fact, the Nanaimo store enjoys the second-highest appliance sales figures of all Sears stores across Canada. Sears has capitalized on that by expanding its appliance and furniture departments, including custom designed furniture as part of Sears’ Whole Home custom furniture program.
“Custom designed by you, made in North America, infinite number of choices and available in 28 days,” McDonald said. “There’s a lot of unique offers here that differentiate us from a lot of competitors.”
The ribbon-cutting event also included the presentation of a $10,000 cheque to the Boys and Girls Club of Nanaimo.