The big news in the (Canadian) retail world this morning is that Target has confirmed that it will be shutting down its entire Canadian operation. That means 133 stores will close and about 17,600 employees will soon be out of work. Here’s what the CEO had to say:
“After a thorough review of our Canadian performance and careful consideration of the implications of all options, we were unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021,” said Brian Cornell, who became the new chief executive officer last summer.
I can already hear the keyboards typing as business schools across Canada and the world prepare this case study: Why did Target Canada fail after not even 2 years?
I don’t really want to focus on that in this post, but my initial sense is that they came in too big and too undifferentiated. Maybe they underestimated the particularities of the Canadian market and shopper, but they certainly didn’t come in lean.
They bought up over a hundred Zellers leases and used that platform to obtain a critical mass quickly. But the problem with this approach is that it meant lots of upfront costs and fewer opportunities to adjust as they gained real feedback from the market.
Regardless of what happened, I’m more interested in what the impact will be to the retail real estate industry going forward. Remember, Target is an anchor. And when it entered Canada, it was viewed as an opportunity to refresh some of our tired malls – many of which were already showing signs of dying.
So what happens now? Who comes in to fill their shoes?