Target gives peek at first Canadian stores in expansion push

Tue Mar 5, 2013 11:11am EST
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By Susan Taylor and Solarina Ho

GUELPH, Ontario (Reuters) - U.S. discount retailer Target Corp (TGT.N: Quote) gave a first look at one of its new stores in Canada on Monday, showing freezers with locally-produced cakes and the country's iconic beaver-logoed Roots apparel brand, designed to appeal to Canadians in its massive expansion outside the United States.

Target's bold entry is expected to threaten a range of Canadian retailers, from department store operators to grocers and pharmacies, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote) has planned its own growth spurt in Canada to defend its turf.

Target will open three stores in southern Ontario on Tuesday, the first wave of a multi-billion dollar push into Canada that will add 124 stores by this Christmas shopping season.

"We know this is an incredibly competitive retail market place," Target Canada president Tony Fisher told reporters during a store tour in Guelph, an hour's drive from the Ontario capital of Toronto. "We have a lot to learn, and so I think we're going to hit a lot of home-runs, but I think we're also going to have some misses as well."

The other two pilot stores are in the small Ontario towns of Milton and Fergus. They are the first of two dozen stores in the province that will welcome customers later this month, before their official opening in April.

Target expects to spend $1.5 billion on its Canadian expansion this year and some $500 million next year.

The Minneapolis-based retailer expects big things from Canada, with annual Canadian sales seen rising to at least C$6 billion in as little as six years, compared to the $72 billion the chain currently sells in the United States.

It has also said that many of its Canadian stores will likely be much more profitable than its average U.S. locations.   Continued...

The new Target store is seen in Guelph, Ontario, March 4, 2013, on the eve of its opening. REUTERS/Geoff Robins