UPDATE 1-Sears Canada loss narrows as same-store sales decline slows

Wed May 20, 2015 8:31am EDT
 
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May 20 (Reuters) - Struggling department store chain Sears Canada Inc reported a smaller first-quarter loss as decline in its same-store sales was the slowest in five quarters.

Sears Canada, whose largest shareholder is Sears Holdings Corp Chief Executive Eddie Lampert and his hedge fund ESL Investments Inc, said on Wednesday that its same-store sales fell 4.3 percent in the first quarter. Comparable sales had fallen 6.8-9.1 percent in the past four quarters.

Decline in sales in Sears Canada's home and hardlines business slowed to 0.8 percent from 12.3 percent a year earlier.

The company gets nearly half of its revenue from the business, under which it sells products including furniture and home decor items.

"We began to see signs that our business was performing better this quarter," CEO Ron Boire said in a statement. "Still, we know much work lies ahead of us."

Boire, who took over Sears Canada as acting president and CEO in October, told Reuters in December that the company was increasing spending on its profitable merchandise categories and website and looking to exit unprofitable product lines.

The company's net loss narrowed to C$59.1 million ($48.4 million), or 58 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended May 2 from C$75.2 million, or 74 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 9.7 percent to C$697.2 million.

Sears Canada's shares closed at C$10.51 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

Up to Tuesday's close, the stock had fallen nearly 33 percent over the past 12 months. ($1 = C$1.22) (Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh and Sneha Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)