Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sears Canada Faces Online Calls for Boycott over Treatment of Ex-Employees

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sears Canada Faces Online Calls for Boycott over Treatment of Ex-Employees

Article excerpt

Sears Canada faces online calls for boycott

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Sears Canada is facing a social media campaign calling for a boycott after the company said it planned to pay millions in bonuses to keep executives on board during restructuring, while not offering severance to laid-off workers.

The retailer's Facebook page has been flooded with comments from people vowing not to shop at Sears, and the hashtag #BoycottSearsCanada has been gaining traction on Twitter.

Sears Canada, which is operating under court protection from creditors, began liquidation sales on Friday at 59 department and Sears Home stores slated for closure.

The company has said it plans to cut approximately 2,900 jobs, without severance, while paying $9.2 million in retention bonuses to key staff as part of a court-supervised restructuring process.

Sears Canada spokesman Joel Shaffer has said the payments are common during the creditor protection process and are designed to keep key employees motivated with performance indicators and incentives to successfully close stores.

The deal was met with fierce backlash from social media users, many of whom wanted the retailer to know they were taking their business elsewhere.

Sears Canada declined to comment on the boycott call.

Retail analyst Bruce Winder said Sears is up against a public relations "storm" that could spell the end of one of Canada's most trusted brands.

"People don't like it when big brands behave badly, in their opinion," Winder said in an interview. "It's a powder keg for social unrest."

Winder, who co-founded the Retail Advisors Network, said most consumers are workers themselves and they have long memories when it comes to perceived injustice against people they see as vulnerable, such as retail workers.

He said the boycott could hurt people still working at the stores, but it may not make a difference if the retailer goes out of business.

"I don't think (Sears) is going to survive this," said Winder. "Unfortunately, those employees are probably going to find themselves out of work anyway. …

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