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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sears Canada restructures with bankruptcy protection

   Canada column for Sunday, June 25/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Battered by slow sales for several years, Sears Canada Inc. will close 59 of its 225 stores as it receives bankruptcy protection to restructure.
   The retailer will cut 2,900 jobs under the court-supervised restructuring approved by the Ontario Superior Court.
   It received 30 days of protection from creditors while it “tries to revamp its business” and seek up to $450 million in financing, the company said.
   Sears stores will continue to operate, except for those closing – 20 department stores, 15 Sears Home stores, 14 Sears Hometown locations and all 10 outlet locations.
   In order to “right-size” its business, Sears said it intends to emerge as a “leaner, more focused operation better able to compete in the hyper-competitive retail industry.”
   Founded in Canada in 1952 as Simpsons Sears, it employs about 17,000 people.
   Marketing strategist Tony Chapman said Sears’ problems were “inevitable” as low-cost producers such as Amazon and Walmart continue “to eat your lunch.”


   The Canadian government is allocating $1.2 billion over three years to the provinces for child-care initiatives.
   The money will support access to high-quality, licensed child-care programs, child and family programs and early childhood educator training.
   It will help to make licensed child care more affordable and include subsidies for low and middle income families.
   “Child care is about quality early learning for our children so they get the best possible start in life,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
   “It will give more parents, especially mothers, an opportunity to work, to train for their next job, or to go back to school,” he added.


   News in brief:
   - With Canada surrounded by three oceans – the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic – as well as having the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, it makes sense to upgrade the Navy’s submarine fleet, says Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd. He said it’s the best way to see who is around Canadian waters and those of its NATO allies. The federal government plans to spend $2.5 billion to upgrade its submarine fleet and also replace 12 frigates and three destroyers.
   - Canada is again in the Top 10 countries ranked on the well-being of their citizens. The Social Progress Imperative, a U.S.-based organization, places Canada sixth after Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Canada is followed by the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand while the U.S. was 18th. The survey looks at education, health, wellness, tolerance, inclusion, political rights, personal freedom, safety and environmental quality.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is slightly lower at 75.4 cents U.S. as the U.S. dollar gained to $1.326 Canadian before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,336 points while the TSX Venture index is 773 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is down to $1.034 a liter or $3.92 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (June 21) 2, 12, 34, 39, 41 and 45; bonus 21. (June 17) 5, 6, 18, 21, 36 and 44; bonus 32. Lotto Max: (June 16) 1, 5, 20, 33, 34, 41 and 42; bonus 15.


   Regional briefs:
   - The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Deborah Douez of British Columbia can pursue her class-action lawsuit against Facebook over its use of “sponsored stories.” She is upset that the now-defunct advertising scheme used her name and profile photo in ads endorsing a company that she “liked.” The suit seeks damages based on a claim that the format violated the province’s Privacy Act.
   - When someone mentions mining, few people would think of tungsten. They are in central New Brunswick as the Sisson Mine has received environmental assessment approval and will also include an ore processing facility. The $579-million project will create 500 jobs during construction and 300 jobs over the 27-year life of the mine at one of the largest deposits of the hard, rare metal in North America.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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