Sears Canada CEO to leave at summer's end, third sudden departure since 2013

TORONTO – Sears Canada Inc. (TSX:SCC) is looking for a chief executive officer again, following its announcement Thursday that Ronald Boire will depart at the end of this summer — less than a year after taking on the job.

He will become president and CEO of the Barnes & Noble chain of bookstores, effective Sept. 8, according to a statement from New York by the U.S. retailer.

Boire became the third CEO of Sears Canada in two years last fall. He followed Douglas Campbell who left in September 2014 and Calvin McDonald, who quit suddenly in September 2013 in the midst of a multiyear turnaround plan.

Sears Canada says the chairman of its board of directors, Brandon Stranzl, will take on a greater leadership role immediately.

In the company’s first quarter, Sears Canada had a $59.1-million net loss for the first quarter as revenues dropped 9.7 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

Stranzl says he will work closely with Sears employees and business partners as Sears Canada works to return to profitability.

“We are grateful for Ron’s support as we search for and welcome a new CEO,” Stranzl said in a statement. “In the meantime, the management team and I are fully engaged in executing the current strategy, designed to improve our retail operations so we can best serve Canadian communities from coast-to-coast.”

Barnes & Noble, Inc. noted in its announcement that Boire had extensive experience in retailing, including as executive and chief marketing officer for Sears and Kmart stores in the United States and as North American president of Toys R Us from 2006 through 2009.

Last week, Desjardins analyst Keith Howlett issued a report saying Sears Canada has less than two years to prove itself.

“The next seven quarters are ‘make it or break it’ for Sears Canada,” Howlett wrote.

“Our current view is that an operating turnaround is improbable.”

Howlett’s prediction suggests the fate of the company will be determined some time around the 2016 holiday shopping season.

The company declined to comment on the Desjardins report.

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