BNN Exclusive: Former Sears Canada CEO on fall the company
On the heels of Sears Canada winning approval to liquidate its remaining assets, one of the company's former CEOs said retailers have to find ways to reinvent themselves if they want to survive the rapidly-evolving industry.
Ron Boire, who spoke to BNN shortly after an Ontario judge approved the request Sears made earlier this week, said it was a “terrible day” for the company.
While Sears’ 65-year run is coming to an end, Boire said he saw opportunity for a turnaround when he worked for the retailer.
“I felt like the senior leadership team was in line with what we needed to do,” Boire said, calling the team “focused” and “aligned.”
He noted Sears' fall from grace can’t be attributed to a single factor, noting the high CEO turnover over the years and market changes.
Boire, who has worked for other retailers including Barnes & Noble and Toys “R” Us, took the helm at Sears Canada in October 2014 and left the company less than a year later.
He said that at the time of his departure, the retailer was “more than viable,” and had an “excellent opportunity to turn the business around.” He said he left the company because he thought going back to the U.S. would ultimately be a better opportunity.
“I think leaders and boards need to be open to innovation and change,” Boire said about what retailers need to do to stay in the game. “These boards of directors are under a lot of pressure – the leaders are under a lot of quarterly pressure. That pressure forces a lot of short-term decisions.”
“We’ve seen a lot of change – I think we are going to see a lot more change in the next three to five years as mall traffic kind of normalizes to whatever the new normal is.”
Boire added that the decline of mall traffic hasn’t hit rock bottom.
“Retail traffic in general has not yet done its decline,” he said. “I think retailers have to reinvent themselves. They have to, when they have excess cash, think about, ‘How do I invest that?’ and what’s the most effective way to build a unique customer experience."
“The retailers that are building unique experiences are doing well, and the retailers who are kind of doing me-too experiences are truly suffering."