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Jun 13, 2017

Sears Canada may not make it through the year: Former CEO

Sears Canada may not make it to the end of year: Former CEO

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A former chief executive officer of Sears Canada (SCC.TO) says he would be shocked if the struggling retailer makes it through the end of the year.

In an interview on BNN, Mark Cohen, who helmed the company from 2001 to 2004, said it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the company survives as an independent entity after it cast doubt on its ability to continue as a going concern

“This is a company that clearly doesn’t have a way forward; so, absent someone with a boatload of cash propping them up, they might very well not make it through the end of this year,” he said. “You can’t run a business without cash flow, and they don’t have any.”

Cohen said barring a significant sale of a chunk of the company’s remaining assets, he thinks the company will be forced to file for bankruptcy protection.

“Absent some kind of an undisclosed asset sale or series of asset sales that we don’t know anything about, the likelihood is pretty good that they’ll have to file,” he said. “When all is said and done, they don’t have any money, they don’t have any cash, they don’t have any volume, they don’t have any forward momentum.”

Cohen said the situation could be exacerbated if the company’s vendors halt shipments to Sears Canada over concerns they won’t be paid in the event of a bankruptcy.

“The vendor community has got to be asking itself the question, ‘Do we ship this company any goods? Will we get caught in a bankruptcy? Will we get paid?’ That’s the lynchpin here,” he said. “Absent some ability to demonstrate financial viability, they’re going to have a very, very tough time getting inventories.”

Cohen said he doubts a white knight will swoop in to save the company, which has hired BMO Capital Markets to explore a sale.

“When you have a company that’s been in serial decline for well over ten years, just how attractive is it likely [to] be?” he said. “In my view, there’s so much incredible damage that’s been done that [a sale is] probably completely unlikely.”

“This looks like a desperation move on the part of the company at the moment.”