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Sears History 1983 to 1987

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Arnold Palmer clothing introductionSears, Roebuck and Co. acquired the 17 million Class B shares of Simpsons-Sears Limited owned by The Hudson's Bay Company and gained majority ownership of 75% of the voting shares of the Company. John Taylor, in a career that spanned 36 years with both Simpsons-Sears Limited and Sears, Roebuck and Co. took early retirement December 31, 1983. His last year saw net earnings rise after three years of decline to $34,586,000 on sales of $3,314,113,000. After opening three new stores, a full-line department store in Regina's Cornwall Centre and Laval, Quebec and the first freestanding specialty store, a Men's Wear store in Montreal's Rockland Shopping Centre in Town of Mount Royal, the Company ended the year with a total of 73 retail stores.

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1984 CatalogueSimpsons-Sears had a new President in 1984, Michael Bozic. Bozic had been Vice-President Planning, Sears, Roebuck and Co. Merchandise Group since 1982. On May 15, 1984, shareholders formally approved changing the corporate name from Simpsons-Sears Limited to Sears Canada Inc., effective May 31, 1984. Shareholders also approved the reclassification of all Class A non-voting shares, and Class B and Class C voting shares, into a single class of Common shares. The end result gave Sears, Roebuck a majority ownership of 62.6% and gave minority shareholders the right to vote for the first time.

The end of the 25-mile agreement some years earlier paved the way for Sears to open a store in Halifax. Ironically, the new Sears store opened in the former Simpsons location. The growing network of stores combined with the strength of the catalogue business enabled the Company to boast that every second household in Canada was buying its goods and services on a regular basis. It was another good year and earnings rose to $37,315,000 on revenues of $3,433,686,000 and bigger and better numbers were just ahead.

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Boulevard Club lineSears Canada was deemed the "Champion of Retailers" in a comprehensive report on the industry prepared by Merrill Lynch and published in 1985. The flagship Mississauga Square One Store had been entirely transformed, and when the doors reopened, customers entered a state-of the-art retail palace. The Square One Store would serve as a prototype and the format was then used in the new store that opened in London (Masonville) in August. Over the next three years, all the stores across the country that were renovated would be done to this new standard.

To better serve both the expanding roster of stores and new outside clients, Sears Line Haul, the Company's in-house trucking division formed in 1971, was incorporated as a fully-owned subsidiary, SLH Transport Inc. The fleet at the time included 1,500 trailers and covered over 34 million kilometers a year.

1985 proved to be a breakthrough year. Both sales and profits soared. Sales climbed to $3,789,214,000 and earnings soared to $75,480,000.

On April 25th, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Ontario's "Lord's Day Act", declaring that it was contrary to the freedom of religion guaranteed by the new Charter of Rights. The doors to Sunday shopping were eventually thrown wide open. Sears would meet the challenge and face the competition head-on everyday of the week.

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Sears CatalogueMichael Bozic left to become President and Chief Administrative Officer of Sears, Roebuck and Co., Merchandise Group, Chicago. Coming the other way from Chicago was G. Joseph Reddington, Senior Vice-President, Administration and Planning in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. Merchandise Group. August saw a new store open in the new Promenade Centre just north of Toronto, replacing the old Richmond Hill Store in Hillcrest Mall. On the island of Montreal, a new full line store opened its doors in Ville LaSalle.

Meanwhile in Winnipeg, the Polo Park Store was inviting customers to its grand re-opening after a complete renovation. One of the retail changes that appeared in October was also an echo of the past. A new store-type opened that year in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. It was part of a new strategy known as the "Small Store" project. Its mandate was to open stores of approximately 30,000 square feet in less populated communities that had strong catalogue sales. The stores contained only women's, men's and children's fashions, footwear and major appliances, anchored by a large Catalogue desk. In a sense, the old 'D' stores were reborn. All these initiatives contributed to another record year. Sales hit $3,891,817,000 and earnings reached $78,728,000.

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Jessica fashion lineThe women's fashion private labels were completely overhauled. 'Jessica' was born in 1987, partly to replace the old "Fashion Place" line, but more importantly to help forge a stronger identity for the labels. The outdated name "Junior Bazaar" was replaced by "19th Avenue". Later "Jessie" was added to denote a more casual line than "Jessica". The men weren't forgotten that year. "Protocol" became the primary Men's Wear line taking over from "The Men's Store".

In April of 1987, Sears Club was inaugurated. It was an extension of the very successful Catalogue Club. Now membership was open to all Sears account card holders. Sears Club points could be accumulated on almost all Sears credit card purchases. This was the first ever national loyalty program launched by a retail chain in Canada.

New stores were added in St. Thomas and Brockville, Ontario. They were the second and third in the Small Store roster. In addition, a full-line store opened in Owen Sound. The retail side lost one location. The struggling Harbour Centre Store in Vancouver closed its doors on New Year's Eve. The end of the year saw another set of record numbers. Total revenues went over the $4 billion mark for the first time and net profits of $82,100,000 were the highest in the Company's history.

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