Canada a magnetic north for U.S. retailers

Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:32pm EDT
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By Phil Wahba and Allison Martell

NEW YORK/TORONTO (Reuters) - More U.S. retailers looking for fresh markets are turning to Canada, lured by their northern neighbor's resilient economy, strong currency and the familiarity with their brands.

Express Inc, a specialty clothing retailer with about 600 U.S. stores, last week opened a Canadian store in Toronto and said it would have six by the end of the year.

Nordstrom Inc and Kohl's Corp is looking into opening department stores in Canada, though neither has announced plans.

Target Corp, the No.2 U.S. discount retail chain behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc, expects to start opening Canadian stores in 2013.

Many chains see Canada as untapped territory, having nearly run out of promising locations in the United States to open new stores, said retail consultant Wendy Evans.

"Many of them have reached or are about to reach saturation in the U.S.," said Evans, whose firm, Evans and Co, advises companies on cross-border expansion.

U.S. chains are also looking for ways to counter a poor outlook for retail sales at home because of unemployment and a weak economy.

Home improvement chain Lowe's Cos Inc, which last month reported worse-than-expected quarterly sales, has sought a boost in Canada where it has 28 locations. It has about 1,700 stores in the United States.   Continued...

<p>A car drives by the Kohl's department store in Arvada, Colorado August 12, 2010. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>