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Sears History 1973 to 1977

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Edmond HillaryFor the first time, sales had broken through the billion dollar mark. The Company's sales in 1973 had jumped 20% over the 1972 figure of $894,066,000 to reach a staggering $1,073,467,000. As the number of Simpsons-Sears stores expanded some Canadians expressed confusion between what was Simpsons and what was Simpsons-Sears. With the end of the 25-mile agreement, the issue was even more acute. The new Square One 'A' store soon to open in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga illustrated the problem. Its customers were familiar with the downtown Toronto Simpsons store but many of them didn't know that Simpsons-Sears was a separate operation. To help ease the confusion, only the single "Sears" logo was used to identify the new store at Square One. By the time a year had passed the logo on the catalogue and in retail store advertising was also changed to the single "Sears". While the name "Sears" had been established for easy identification, the corporate name of the Company remained "Simpsons-Sears Limited" and continued to be used for all formal business transactions.

The first retail store to sport the new Sears logo was the new 'B' store which opened in Barrie, Ontario on August 1st. Another 'B' store opened in Sherbrooke, Quebec two weeks later and then the pioneering 'A' store at Square One in Mississauga opened on October 3rd. The total number of stores had now reached 46. Also on October 3rd, the Company announced a new computerized ordering processing system that allowed customers to place catalogue orders by telephone without human assistance.

The Simpsons-Sears Sports Advisory Council was revived in 1973 under the leadership of W.F. "Zeke" O'Connor Buying Supervisor of Sporting Goods. The Buyers and their sports advisor developed exclusive products such as skis with Rossignol, hockey skates with Bauer, golf clubs with Wilson, boat motors with O.B.M. and Ted Williams Motors, and baseball gloves with Fergie Jenkins.

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Brantford OpeningFor Simpsons-Sears it was time to celebrate the first billion-dollar year which occurred in 1973. Every employee was awarded an attractive commemorative medallion, 39,295 in all. Five new stores were opened including two Ontario 'A' stores in Sudbury and in Newmarket's Upper Canada Mall. Another 'A' was opened in Lévis, Quebec. Two 'B' stores were also added to the roster, both in Ontario, one in Brantford and the other in Richmond Hill's Hillcrest Mall. This latter location was unique in that it was the first mall in which a Sears store co-existed with a Simpsons store.

The Regina and Halifax Catalogue Centres were expanded again in 1974 and by the end of the year; there were 608 Catalogue Sales Offices.

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Montreal Brossard OpeningThe Catalogue Division pumped out 11 different catalogues totalling 41 million copies. This meant that, on average, every home received six catalogues per year. The 1975 Fall/Winter Catalogue with 952 pages, 694 of them in colour, was the largest book produced to date.

New stores were opened in Chilliwack and Vancouver (Capilano), two in Montreal (Brossard and Place Vertu) and another in Toronto (Gerrard Square). In Toronto, a second big-ticket distribution centre with 435,000 square feet of space called the Albion Distribution Centre was opened in the city's north end to take some of the pressure off the Kenmore building located at the northwest corner of Islington Avenue and Highway 401. In Calgary, a 260,000 square foot retail distribution centre was opened to serve the Calgary Stores and Lethbridge.

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New Coat at Kitchener StoreAfter just 23 years in business, Simpsons-Sears had become the biggest general retailer in Canada. Four new stores opened their doors. The Vancouver Harbour Centre 'A' store opened on August 4th. It was a former Eaton's store and the Company's first foray into a downtown location. Another 'A' store followed on the 18th in Ville d'Anjou in Montreal. And in Prince George, B.C. a 'B' store at Pine Centre opened on March 10th. The Park Plaza store relocated to a brand new store at Edmonton Kingsway. To handle the surging flow of goods, the Company now had 5.4 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space.

The state of the art, computer-controlled Distribution and Fashion Centre in the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent opened in 1976. It became Sears Fashion Buying Office and the Fashion Distribution Centre.

After 10 years of outstanding service, Douglas Peacher retired as President on April 19th. His replacement was John D. Taylor, the General Manager of Sears, Roebuck's Chicago Group of retail stores. He became the fifth President of Simpsons-Sears.

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New Calgary StoreThe Marlborough Town Square 'B' store opened in Calgary. Two other stores were opened in 1977. They were a 'B' store just north of Montreal in St. Jerome, Quebec and an 'A' store in the Toronto suburb of Markham. There were now 62 retail outlets across the country. The Regina Catalogue Centre was expanded for the third time in just four years. Its new Parkway Distribution Centre was the Company's first fully automated and computerized storage and retrieval warehouse. By the end of 1977 another 102 Catalogue Sales Offices came on line bringing the total to 819.


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