Moving Target

Big international business or small local business – customers are at a premium and always considered a moving target. Know your client, know your customer and know your Canadian financial marketplace.

So what went wrong with the biggest North American big box mall maneuver ever? Target came in like a lion and left like a lamb. This was the biggest, and apparently the best, attempt to dominate an already vibrant retail market in Canada with one fell swoop. Like a powerful army with skilled and experienced generals alongside the most up-to-date equipment and technology. This massive show of force was readied to fight both established Canadian giants, known rivals and opposition forces with less time, money, patience and planning than required.

It’s been less than 2 years; don’t they know most businesses fail in the first two years. It’s unfortunate but we did call them through our sales department at MONEY® to do business. And none was to be found, hard to reach, no call back from Target head office lead them to a self serving, American style of advertising and marketing, and evidently to their demise.

Coming to Canada in a big way you need the support of ‘friendlies’, allies and ground troupes that know, understand and consistently work with Canadian’s as a different breed. Canadian’s love American football, baseball, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Mickey Mouse. But not everything made in the U.S. is a sure fire hit in Canada. Even the Excited States of America and other strong foreign brands will be surprised about our harsh land and simple, loyal people. It’s not so easy to be successful in anything, anywhere. There are some basics that we can all learn whether you are a well-branded box mall retailer or a mom and pop location.

Know your local Canadian and they will tell you for free, over coffee, what ever you want to know. It’s always a good idea to get advice. Good local advice and knowledge is usually proven to be wise and helpful to most foreign travellers and businesses. Enough said – there was always good, smart and local advice a bound but it wasn’t asked for nor taken. Heads will roll for this failure and retreat at the bunker and command centre in Minnesota.

How embarrassing! And at what cost to the giant retailer and the Canadian government that would allow such a thing. The next time a politician talks about jobs, jobs, jobs. Ask them how many jobs, if they are low paying, without benefits, part-time and how long will these jobs be around.


I understand the world is a small place after all, and they always said there would be more of a global economy, but this is indeed a strange story that takes place over 2 years and winds down in another year or so.

It may be studied in accounting and business courses in Canada over the next 10 years. Target moving leaves many Canadian’s out of work and with more questions than answers for now; like why and how could this happen and who really is culpable for this now North American business decision disaster.

The Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario where 800 mostly
full time American’s and Canadian’s worked is now on a skeleton staff with most of them in contingency roles helping to liquidate and wind down the companies affairs with a road map to exit Canada faster than they came in.

Target Corporation announced Jan. 15 that it was pulling out of Canada, less than two years after opening its first stores. Instead of turning a profit within a year as expected, the company has lost $7-billion.

It was supposed to be the Minneapolis based discount retailer’s first international expansion attempt. Canadian stores were run through
a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary called Target Canada Co. The Canadian subsidiary will be filing for bankruptcy in Canada or commonly known as Chapter 11 in the U.S. Target is to present a motion to the court in early February asking for approval to appoint a joint venture of liquidation companies to sell off the contents of its 133 stores across Canada.

According to the court documents, notices of termination have been sent to the vast majority of 17,600 employees – almost half of who work at Target stores and offices in Ontario. The head office in Mississauga is being operated with a reduced team focused on winding down the business in an orderly fashion. The liquidation is to be completed no later than May 15, 2015 but sales at some stores are expected to be finished as early as the end of March, according to the documents.

A few bargains will exist for consumers and liquidators over the next few months. The usual suspects and giant retailers are ready to celebrate and some of them spinning offers of more part-time and low paying jobs with few benefits and no guarantees.