Sears Canada Inc. has entered into an agreement to outsource work at three of its Sears Customer Contact Centres to IBM in a move expected to affect 1,628 jobs.
The retailer, operated by Sears Holdings Corporation, said reassigning these operations to a third party will allow Sears to “realize significant capability upgrades which will result in better processes, controls and tracking and an overall improvement in the customer experience,” according to a statement. The transition is expected to take place over the next nine months and should not be noticeable to customers.
Doug Campbell, president and chief executive officer for Sears Canada Inc. said, “The changes we are making to our Customer Contact Centres will allow us to streamline the support structure of our organization while enhancing the overall customer experience.” He added that, “Our partner will bring tools and technologies that will allow us to operate more effectively without the ongoing investment in and maintenance of legacy proprietary systems. This will provide our customers with the benefits of up-to-date technology and enable us to focus on our core retail business, the area where we believe we have the greatest opportunity to maximize the value of the Company.”
Eliminating the three internal contact centers will affect 1,345 associates over the nine months and with the reorganization and simplification of its logistics organization that the company also has planned, Sears’ staff will shrink by another 283 associates effective immediately.
Sears Canada currently operates 181 corporate stores, 241 Hometown stores, over 1,400 catalogue and online merchandise pick-up locations, 101 Sears Travel offices and a nationwide repair and service network. The Company also publishes Canada’s most extensive general merchandise catalogue and offers shopping online at www.sears.ca.
“We are planning for the future of Sears Canada and taking steps now that will allow us to continue serving customers as a viable national retailer coast to coast in stores and through our Direct channel now and in the future,” Campbell added.
Just last week, Sears Holdings reported a steep 7.4% drop in comparable store sales for the fourth quarter. In that same report, the company also said it expected an adjusted net loss between $213 million and $316 million for Q4, which amounts to between $2.01 and $2.98 loss per diluted share. The company’s shares dropped 13 percent to $36.98 from $42.57 following the news.