The official birthday was January 8th, 1978. There were only 25 candles on the cake but there were some other very impressive, big numbers to consider during Simpsons-Sears Silver Anniversary year. During the first year of operation in 1953, the Company employed about 7,000 people. In 1978, there were now over 50,000 full and part-time staff. Total sales in 1953 were just over $100 million and now they were over the $2 billion mark. There were only 2 small 'D' stores opened in 1953. As 1978 began, there were 62 retail outlets. By the end of the anniversary year that number reached 63 with the opening of a new store in Red Deer, Alberta.
The Hudson's Bay Company acquired Simpsons Limited and gained approximately 35% of the outstanding Class B shares of Simpsons-Sears Limited. The Federal Government required that Simpsons-Sears Limited and Simpsons Limited operate as two separate companies and that all shared facilities and services be discontinued. Simpsons-Sears was now free from any restrictions on entering markets and could stand alone as a truly independent company.
Mr. Jack C. Barrow, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer since 1966 announced his intention to retire on May 14, 1979, after 33 years of service with Simpsons and at Simpsons-Sears where he spent 13 years at the helm. C. Richard Sharpe, Vice-President, Merchandising, was appointed Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. John D. Taylor, President, was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer. Meanwhile, stores were added in Medicine Hat, Alberta and at the Cornwall Square mall in Ontario to round out the decade and bring the total number of retail stores to 65.
The 70's ended with the Company reporting net sales of $2,618,213,000 and impressive earnings of $67,932,000.
1980 was the year a new corporate campaign was developed and built around a memorable and resonate slogan:"At Sears you get your money's worth... and more". New stores were opened in Winnipeg at Kildonan Place and in St. Jean and Granby, Quebec. The Granby location was the first of series of test stores that were designed to meet the needs of smaller communities. These were known as the K-40 stores, so called because they were approximately 40,000 square feet. The year ended with Simpsons-Sears boasting 68 retail department stores and 1,115 Catalogue Sales Units, as they were now called.
The marketing structure was reorganized into nine groups; Children's & Teens, Men's Wear, Women's Fashions, Fashion Accessories, Home Centre, Appliance Centre, Home Fashions, Leisure & Outdoor Living, and Automotive. The existing 50 buying departments were streamlined into 24. Retail stores were regrouped into three regions. The Western region included the four Western provinces with a regional office located in Edmonton. Ontario and the Atlantic provinces were grouped in the Eastern region under a regional office in Toronto. Quebec was the third region with Montreal as its regional office. Sears store count also grew with the opening of three stores in 1981, two in Edmonton (Heritage and West Edmonton Mall) and the other in Hamilton (Lime Ridge).
1982 will be remembered as the year Sears refused to stand still. Although the economic picture of the day was gloomy, hope was beginning to shine through. While the recession had dampened consumer confidence and Canada's GDP had actually shrunk by almost 7%, Chairman Sharpe had his eyes on a brighter horizon. He summed up his reasons for optimism at the Annual General Meeting in May. "In spite of the current environment, consumers' balance sheets are in good shape, savings are at historically high levels and consumer credit generally has been paid down. In a nutshell, Canadian consumers appear to be in a position to buy their way out of the depression. At Sears, we are well positioned to capitalize on all opportunities as they begin to appear in the second half of 1982."
New stores were opened in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and Chatham, Ontario bringing the total to 72. The Company was energized and ready for better days ahead.