The first three (of the planned 124 store expansion into Canada in 2013) Target stores are now open.  The three Ontario locations announced on Monday to open on Tuesday are all outside of major markets.

The Guelph, Fergus and Milton additions to Targets planned Canadian take over welcomed shoppers at 8:00 am Tuesday morning.   While the stores are not 100% stocked, the three are being used as “pilot stores” to help the company refine their processes.

“We want to open up these three stores to the public and really have the public help us, teach us how to be better,” said Tony Fisher, president of Target Canada, announcing the openings at a press conference at the Guelph store on Monday.

“We expect that we’re going to learn a lot.”

Target plans on opening another 21 stores throughout the month of March,with an official opening in April.

By the end of the year, Target expects to open 124 stores in ten provinces, employing approximately 27,000 people.   Ironically 27,000 Zellers employees lost their jobs when HBC sold Target the rights to Zellers leaseholds for a reported $1.825 billion in 2011.  The numbers are pretty much a wash for employees, but there is a potential that with further expansion beyond 2013 that Target could employ numbers of Canadians Zellers could have only dreamed of.


The pilot stores all include a Starbucks and an in-store pharmacy, as will the majority of Targets Canadian expansion.


Target is entering the Canadian market promising to be the one-stop-shopping store, selling everything from engine oil and pet food to iPhones and the chic, cheap home furnishings and clothing it has become famous for.

Fisher downplayed the fact that Target Canada will not be matching their U.S. Target prices by saying they will sell at low prices, match local advertised prices and shoppers with a Target card will get a five per cent discount on everything they buy.


Target have been on a not so subtle public relations campaign in the months leading up to the openings, handing out free Christmas trees in Sudbury, and bringing The Tenors to Toronto’s Dundas Square and Carly Rae Jepsen to Mission, B.C. for free performances


It seems to have worked. Fisher said brand awareness of Target in Canada has jumped to 92 per cent from 70 per cent since 2011, and to 70 per cent from 50 per cent in Quebec.


The chain has 825,000 Canadian Facebook fans and hasn’t even opened a store, Fisher said.


While not all Canadians are happy about the new American retail giants appearance on the northern landscape the excitement for another shopping option for Canadian Families is evident.


Possibly the most interesting part of the Target Canadian take over is to going to be seeing how established retailers deal with the new competition trying to take away precious market share.  That is the part that remains to be seen, and could possibly be the best news for Canadian shoppers.


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