01/24/2012 06:59 EST

Sears Canada Layoffs: 400 Jobs Cut As Retailer Shuts In-Store Cafes


TORONTO - Sears Canada is cutting roughly 400 jobs across the country as it closes nearly all of its in-store cafes.

Company spokesman Vincent Power said Tuesday that the cuts are part of a plan by Sears to improve its operations and connect better with customers.

"We think they know us for merchandise and products and services," he said, noting that the cafes were not core to store operations.

Sears will close all of its in-store cafes except for its flagship store at Toronto's Eaton Centre and at Vancouver's Pacific Centre.

In addition to the cafe jobs, the company has also cut some support and head office staff, but those dealing with customers were unaffected, Power said.

The cuts follow the loss of about 70 head office jobs at Sears Canada late last year.

Sears has roughly 30,000 employees across Canada and more than 400 corporate, dealer and home services stores.

Last month, Sears Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:SHLD) said it would close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores in the United States.

The closures did not apply to Sears Canada, but the U.S. retailer's Toronto-based subsidiary has been streamlining itself under a new leadership team to help reverse recent losses.

Sears Canada CEO Calvin McDonald has been working to put plans into place to make the stores more attractive, relevant and shopable.

McDonald had found that Sears' stores were difficult to shop in and complained there was too much clutter.

Sears and other Canadian retailers have been gearing up in preparation for the arrival of U.S. discount retailer Target next year.

Department store chain The Bay, for example, has launched a multimillion-dollar makeover at most of its locations.