Sears Eaton Centre

Sears is shipping out of the Toronto Eaton Centre

The Eaton Centre's flagship retailer is shutting up shop. Sears Canada has announced it is selling the lease on its downtown Toronto and Sherway Gardens stores in an attempt to claw back around $400 million in rent.

Under the plan announced early this morning, the struggling retailer will sell back its lease to Cadillac Fairview and close in February at the expense of around 950 jobs company-wide. Sears' headquarters on the upper floors of the building will remain.

Sears took over the space from Eaton's when the company that built the 1,720,000 square foot mall filed for bankruptcy in 1999. Sears Canada began closing stores last year, handing back the lease on its Yorkdale and Square One outlets in the GTA and some in B.C. Several were taken over by upscale U.S. fashion retailer Nordstrom.

CEO Doug Campbell said the move was part of Sears' plan "to improve the business and make Sears more relevant to Canadians."

Will you miss the cheap underwear at Sears? How would you like to see the Eaton Centre space filled? Feel free to speculate about which companies could realistically fill the massive, multi-floor premises. Could this sate Walmart's apparent need for a downtown location?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Sbikh on Flickr.


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