Rather than wither away and suffer from depleting funds, Sears Canada Inc. (TSX:SCC) is revamping the business with the use of technology.
Here’s a look at how the company is faring and what it has planned moving forward.
How’s Sears Canada doing?
Sears Canada currently trades at $3.42. Year to date the stock is down by nearly 52%. Looking back over a longer period does not show much improvement either; over the past 12 months the stock is down by 71%. Looking even further back, the stock down by over 80% in the past five years.
In the most recent quarter, Sears Canada posted revenues of $887.6 million, representing an 8.7% drop over the same quarter last year. Same-store sales were also down by 1.6% when compared with the same quarter last year.
Net earnings for the quarter came in at $30.9 million, or $0.30 per share. This is a noted improvement over the same quarter last year, which saw the company post a net loss of $123.6 million, or $1.21 per share, but much of this improvement can be attributed to cost-cutting efforts as well as a $170.7 million boost from terminating a credit card agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank this past fall.
Last year, Sears Canada cut expenses by an impressive $125 million. Now the company is planning to do equally as well this year with a further $100-127 million slated to be cut from overhead costs this year; most of those cuts are targeted to be in effect midway through this year.
Specific areas where these cuts would apply were not mentioned, but the company did offer up two other sources of savings that could contribute to that number.
The company maintains a national logistics centre in Calgary, and Sears Canada recently announced that the location would be the focus of a sale-leaseback. Additionally, Sears Canada entered into an agreement with easyfinancial services to enable financing over larger-priced items.
How Sears is rebooting
Sears Canada has a new chairman and a new outlook on what needs to change for the company to become profitable. Like so many traditional brick-and-mortar stores, Sears Canada is struggling with integrating online sales into the traditional model.
The company set up a new innovations lab to rethink how best the company can improve and integrate the operations, e-commerce, and catalogue divisions.
Sears Canada was one of the first companies to go online with e-commerce, and there are parallels between the company’s catalogue business and an online marketplace. However, the company failed to keep up with technology over the years, which led to its current state.
Beyond technology, the company is also looking to revamp stores, making them more like mazes rather than the wide avenue-like aisles that are in the current line of stores.
While the turnaround may take some time to gain steam, the fact that Sears Canada has started working on problems within its business model is both encouraging and a sign for investors to take a look at the company.
In my opinion, Sears represents a unique opportunity for investors willing to add a small position in the company, as long as those investors have a good tolerance for risk. If the turnaround efforts are successful, the current stock price will rise past the current discounted level.