Sears Canada appointed Carrie Kirkman as president and chief merchant. She, along with Executive Chairman Brandon Stranzl, are tasked with refocusing Sears Canada to heighten the multi-channel customer experience and return the chain to profitability.
Stranzl was named executive chairman in July after former president and CEO Ronald Boire announced his plans to leave the company to join Barnes & Noble. Boire spent less than a year at the helm of Sears Canada and his predecessor, Douglas Campbell, similarly only spent one year as CEO. The search for a new CEO and president is still underway, but Kirkman's appointment is a first step in filling in the leadership team.
Kirkman has more than 20 years of retail leadership experience in Canada. Most recently, she was interim president for Nine West Canada and president of Jones Apparel Group, Canada. From 2002 to 2010, Kirkman worked in various management roles for Hudson's Bay, spanning nearly every category and ultimately served as general merchandise manager for women's apparel, accessories, jewelry and footwear.
Prior to Hudson's Bay, she was director of merchandising for Liz Claiborne Canada for five years, managing brands such as DKNY, Dana Buchman and Kenneth Cole.
"We are very proud to welcome Carrie Kirkman to Sears Canada as president and chief merchant. She has exceptional experience connecting with the Canadian consumer, and an esteemed history as a key player in driving successful merchandising, marketing, and business strategies for department stores and consumer brands across the country," Stranzl said.
"Our vision is to reinstate Sears Canada as an iconic lifestyle brand, and in order to accomplish that, we looked for a leader with experience in apparel and department stores, and also with Canadian roots—we wanted someone who could inspire trust and confidence in Canada for our iconic brand."
Kirkman has been featured in top Canadian publications as a women of influence, has been on the nominating committee of the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, featured on CBC and Sirius radio, and has spoken about the role of women in leadership on an international level.
Kirkman has been given no easy task. Sears Canada has a turbulent, unprofitable past, including a failed auction for a majority stake in the company last fall, a key factor that forced parent company Sears to take out a $400 million loan from Sears' chairman, Eddie Lampert.
As Sears continues to struggle financially, the sale of Sears Canada is still a possibility. Press Release