NEWS
05/14/2014 07:23 EDT | Updated 07/14/2014 05:59 EDT

Sears Canada may be sold by U.S. parent

Sears is considering selling part or all of its Canadian operations after struggling to restructure the business for the past several years.

Shares in Sears Canada rose almost five per cent on Wednesday with news that Sears Holdings Corp. intends "to explore strategic alternatives including the potential divestiture of its remaining shares in Sears Canada and/or the sale of Sears Canada as a whole," the company said in a statement.

The holding company controls its namesake stores, but also operates numerous Kmart locations. It owns a controlling stake of 51 per cent of the Canadian operations of Sears.

A spokesman for the Canadian operations, Vincent Power, said the U.S. parent's announcement doesn't affect the running of Sears stores in Canada.

"It's business as usual for us, and we are continuing to serve Canadian families coast to coast through our stores and our direct channels," Power said in an email.

"This morning's announcement is an ownership matter, not an operational matter, and our focus is on meeting the needs of Canadians for themselves and their homes," he said.

Years of sales declines

Sears Holdings previously sold some store leases in Canada, including its Canadian flagship location in the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. 

Billionaire hedge fund manager and Sears chairman Eddie Lampert, who took over as CEO in February 2013, has been under intense pressure to adapt to a changing retail landscape that has seen luxury and discount brands do well, but broad, general interest retailers in the middle get squeezed from either end.

In 2012, the company began a cost-cutting plan that saw the company raise $1.8 billion by selling assets like Hometown and Sears Outlet stores and its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores, and reduce its total debt load by $400 million.

Sears also has been building a loyalty program called Shop Your Way, which accounts for a majority of its sales and has tens of millions of active customers. The company also recently spun off clothing business Lands' End as a separate public company after not having much success with it.