Tar­get Canada off the mark from the start

SundayXtra - - OPINION -

FEW read­ers were sur­prised when Tar­get an­nounced it will be clos­ing its Cana­dian stores, with many say­ing the re­tail gi­ant failed to match the mer­chan­dise and setup of its stores in the United States. Too bad they were never able to repli­cate the Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence and prod­uct line that many Cana­di­ans were hop­ing for. I won­der what will hap­pen to the new Polo Park store? I feel bad for those who will ex­pe­ri­ence job loss as a re­sult of this. The prod­uct se­lec­tion is much bet­ter at Tar­get south of the 49th par­al­lel than it is here. If you are go­ing to run your business at two-thirds of what they have only two hours away, what’s the point? This one will be a case study in in­ept­ness in business schools for decades. They had the Cana­dian mar­ket’s at­ten­tion when they opened, but they dropped the ball in so many ways. It was ripe for them at the be­gin­ning, but their lack of prod­uct-line se­lec­tion and inventory prob­lems soured the mar­ket and did ir­repara­ble dam­age to their rep­u­ta­tion here. To­tal business fail­ure, to be put squarely on the heads of the brain trust at cor­po­rate head­quar­ters. Not sur­prised. Too much com­pe­ti­tion with Wal­mart, which is well-es­tab­lished after all th­ese years. And Tar­get’s se­lec­tion of goods and the lay­out of the store were very poor.

I feel sorry for all those about to be un­em­ployed. They bought Zellers lo­ca­tions out be­cause they were go­ing un­der. The Zellers em­ploy­ees were los­ing their jobs. Tar­get de­layed the in­evitable. Sears is next. Or the Bay. The old an­chor stores are dy­ing be­cause of the Wal­mart jug­ger­naut. I’m not at all sur­prised. The first and only time I went to Tar­get in Win­nipeg was in De­cem­ber 2013. I was greeted with high prices and empty shelves. I also didn’t like the setup of the store. Way too long shelv­ing dis­plays strate­gi­cally set up so that when you fi­nally found your way around it, you en­coun­tered yet another block­ing your way, mak­ing you walk prac­ti­cally to the front or the back of the store to get around that one, only to en­counter yet another. Cer­tainly not the ex­pe­ri­ence I have when I go to Tar­get in Grand Forks. I’m go­ing to go out on a limb and say too many as­sump­tions were made prior to such a huge in­vest­ment. They prob­a­bly should have started small to learn how their brand and sales strate­gies would go over here. I sus­pect many Cana­di­ans were ex­pect­ing the same store they en­joyed in the U.S. When the Cana­dian con­sumer dis­cov­ered it was noth­ing like that, they re­turned to their usual shop­ping des­ti­na­tions. This is a great ex­am­ple of man­agers and ex­ec­u­tives mak­ing ter­ri­ble de­ci­sions and wast­ing a lot of time, re­sources and en­ergy. Clearly man­agers can drag a company un­der. This is ter­ri­ble for all the work­ers and fam­i­lies in­volved. They are not just num­bers. Sad.

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