Sears Canada: Out of the auto service business

March 31, 2004

Sears Canada Inc. is licensing out 36 of its 49 tire and auto centers to three independent tire dealers: Kal Tire, President Tire Canada and Active Green & Ross. The remaining 13 will be closed.

The independent dealers will operate under three separate licensing arrangements with their own banners.

In addition, Sears DieHard batteries will be sold at Kal Tire in Western Canada, President Tire in Quebec and the Maritimes, and Active Green & Ross in Ontario. "Existing Sears automotive warranties for products and services will be honoured and the Sears Card will be accepted at all locations," according to the company.

In an official press release, Sears Canada explained the specifics of the move.

* 11 of 17 Sears auto centers in Western Canada will be converted to Kal Tire.

* all three Sears auto centers in New Brunswick, one in Newfoundland and 13 of 14 in Quebec will be converted to President Tire.

* eight of 14 Sears auto centres in Ontario will be converted to Active Green & Ross.

Sears Canada also announced that three Ontario Sears auto center locations that closed in 2001 (Cornwall Square, Hamilton Lime Ridge Mall and the Promenade Shopping Centre in Thornhill) will re-open as Active Green & Ross stores.

The remaining 13 Sears Canada outlets will be shuttered; six will be closed, and seven will close and be converted "to non-selling store space or selling floor space for merchandise within the full-line store to which they are connected."

Brent Hollister, president and chief operating officer for Sears Canada, said significant changes in the automotive aftermarket "requires sophisticated equipment and capital investment in an area of expertise which Kal Tire, President Tire and Active Green & Ross are clearly focused and better able to support within their corporate strategy.

"We feel that Sears and these three reputable auto service and tire providers share the same core values of quality products and exceptional service, which is important to Sears as our customers make the transition."

Sears said some 775 of its associates will be affected nationally by the transition.

"The decision to exit the automotive aftermarket business in no way reflects the hard work and commitment of Sears automotive associates," said Hollister.

"Sears is proud of the level of competency that our Auto Centre associates have developed in serving our customers, and the fact that many of them will be offered positions by Kal Tire, President Tire and Active Green & Ross, is a tribute to the dedication these Sears associates have demonstrated over the years."