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Sears Canada cuts more than 1,600 jobs

Another round of job cuts is rippling through the operations of Sears Canada Inc. (TSX:SCC), affecting more than 1,600 positions as the company looks for ways to lower expenses.

The retailer says it has eliminated 283 jobs at warehouses across much of the country in a move to simplify logistics. The warehouses affected are in Calgary, Montreal, Belleville and Vaughan, Ont., and a Vancouver suburb.

Sears Canada will also outsource the 1,345 associate jobs at its three customer call centres in Toronto, Montreal and Belleville, Ont., over the next nine months.

IBM will become the third-party vendor for customer services, with its English-language phone operations being handled out of the Philippines and French calls going to an office in Europe, said spokesman Vince Power.

The company's call centres handle catalogue orders, gift registry and parts and repair services.

Sears Canada has been scaling back its call centres for several years.

The company closed its Hamilton office in 2008, laying off about 140 mainly part-time staff. A year later it shuttered the Regina office, laying off 250 people.

The latest round of job cuts are necessary for the health of the company, said president and CEO Doug Campbell.

"These types of decisions are not made without considerable thought and deliberation," he said in a release.

"We are planning for the future of Sears Canada and taking steps now that will allow us to continue serving customers."

Sears Canada is trying to reduce costs and improve its overall business as part of a three-year turnaround plan. The company is dealing with intense competition within the retail sector and a slate of aging stores that it began plans to renovate before the departure of its previous CEO, Calvin McDonald.

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