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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Sears Canada selling 15% stake in Quebec shopping centre for $33.5M

TORONTO - Sears Canada Inc. (TSX:SCC) is selling its 15 per cent minority ownership interest in the Centre commercial Les Rivieres in Trois-Rivieres, Que., for $33.5 million.

Sears says the buyer is Ivanhoe Cambridge, the real estate subsidiary of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec pension fund and the owner of the remaining 85 per cent of the shopping centre.

The transaction, subject to customary conditions, is scheduled to close on June 2.

Sears will continue to operate its department store in the shopping centre and Ivanhoe Cambridge will continue to manage the property, Sears said in a statement Friday.

Sears Canada operates retail network that includes 176 corporate stores, 234 Hometown stores, more than 1,400 catalogue and online merchandise pick-up locations, 97 Sears Travel offices and a nationwide repair and service network.

Earlier this week, U.S. retailer Sears Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq:SHLD) said it was considering selling its 51 per cent interest in Sears Canada as the retailer continues with efforts to turn around its business.

Sears Canada is in the midst of its own three-year turnaround plan that intensified when the company began a more aggressive reduction of staff aimed at lowering expenses.

Over the past year, Sears Canada has sold the leases to some of its most prominent locations, many of which will reopen as upscale Nordstrom department stores within the next two years.

Since January, the company has announced it will chop 2,200 employees from its payroll, on top of thousands more that it laid off last year in moves that lowered its overall employee count at the time to about 20,000.

Sears Canada also plans to invest $30 million over the next two or three years, with the money going towards a new inventory management system to replace infrastructure that has fallen behind many of its competitors.

The new technology will provide a clearer picture of what's on shelves at each store, while the company also has other plans underway to enhance its website for a better online shopping experience.

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