BAY STREET-Canadian retailers brace for Target's cheap chic

Sun Dec 9, 2012 10:30am EST
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* Target to open across Canada starting next spring

* Grocery seen at less risk than apparel, general merchandise

* Hudson's Bay, Sears Canada may both be vulnerable

* Beauty offerings could challenge Shoppers Drug Mart

By Allison Martell

TORONTO, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Canadian retailers of all stripes are bracing for the day next spring when Target Corp unlocks the doors of its first stores north of the border, but its instant competitive heft probably won't weigh on all retail stocks equally.

Sears Canada Inc and Hudson's Bay Co - two entrenched department store operators - may have the most to fear from the No. 2 U.S. discounter, retail experts say. Their shares may be most vulnerable.

HBC, which went public in November, has traded below its C$17 offer price since its first trading day, partly because of concerns that its turnaround drive might stall once Target arrives.

By contrast, Loblaw Cos Ltd and Metro Inc, mainly grocers by trade, face a lesser threat from Target, and their shares may hold up better.   Continued...