Target tanks

Target tanks

Ste. Dorothée, Chomedey superstores to close

By Robert Frank

Pay more. Expect less. It took just 16 months for United States retail giant Target a year to go bust in Canada by failing to replicate here the price and logistic wizardry that earned it renown among American shoppers.

Target’s two Ste. Dorothée and Chomedey superstores will soon close their doors, as the company winds down operations, throwing about 400 Laval employees out of work. The company hired 27,000 staff for its first foreign foray, when it entered the Canadian market in Sept. 2013, including 5,000 in Quebec.

If there’s a silver lining to Target tanking, it could be to help revive another struggling American retailer’s Canadian arm. Reducing retail capacity could benefit Sears Canada, which rapidly reached out to skim the cream of the crop for Target’s soon-to-be-unemployed staff.

Although closing Target’s 124 stores, including 25 in Quebec, has vacated 20 million sq.ft. of Canadian retail real estate floor space, the infrastructure that it will leave behind is much-improved in terms of energy efficiency and environment-friendliness. Target invested billions in its Canadian launch. After it bought iconic Hudson’s Bay Company’s lacklustre Zellers chain it spent $11-23 million renovating each store.

Target’s entry also prodded other Canadian retailers to up their game.

“You have stores like Canadian Tire that have revitalized themselves very successfully,” observed

Vancouver-based retail real estate expert Ian F. Thomas.

During the same period, declining demand drove the Best Buy and Future Shop chains to downsize their store networks. Chapters Indigo focused on turning its bookstores into cultural retail centres, with toys, hobbies, home décor, food, beverages and in-store demonstrations.

Hot on the news of Target’s failure last week, Sony also announced that it would close its Canadian retail outlets, none of which were located in Laval.

Discount competitor Wal-Mart saw off Target by bolstering its service and intensifying its advertising presence.

Meantime, upmarket American retailer Nordstrom has put its expansion into the Canadian market on ice.
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Former ceo Tony Fisher spoke to reporters Sept. 16, 2013, the day before Target Canada opened it’s Sainte Dorothée store, where some 200 employees will soon lose their jobs.
(Photo © Robert Frank)
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