Target Opens Three “Pilot Stores” in Canada

Target Opens Three “Pilot Stores” in Canada

The retailer’s first 24 Canadian stores will have soft openings this month—and Target plans to open 124 stores throughout the country in 2013.

Target Corporation said Monday that it will open three “pilot stores” in Ontario on Tuesday.

The stores—located in the cities of Guelph, Milton, and Fergus—represent the Minneapolis-based retailer’s first locations outside of the United States and are the first of 124 Target stores that will open across Canada in 2013.

Target said that the pilot store openings mark the final phase in a testing process through which it has been preparing various systems, training employees, and determining operational readiness before the first wave of 24 stores have soft openings across Ontario this month.

“The Target team is excited to open these test locations as we put the finishing touches on our stores, assortments and inventory,” Target Canada President Tony Fisher said in a statement.

Each pilot store will open to the public at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Although hours might fluctuate as the testing process continues, the stores are expected to be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Two years ago, Target announced a deal to lease and remodel old stores run by the Zellers retail chain, and according to The Wall Street Journal, the company has reportedly invested more than $2.7 billion in its first international expansion. Target said last week that it plans to spend an additional $1.5 billion this year on its foray into Canada.

Also last week, Target announced that its fourth-quarter profits dropped 2 percent as the retailer experienced weak holiday sales and recorded expenses related to its Canadian launch.

For the quarter that ended February 2, net earnings totaled $961 million, or $1.47 per share, down from $981 million, or $1.45 per share, the prior year. Revenue for the quarter, meanwhile, rose 6.8 percent to $22.4 billion. Revenue at stores open for at least a year—a key indicator of a retailer’s health—rose 0.4 percent.

Target is Minnesota’s second-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $71.9 billion for the fiscal year that ended February 2—up 5 percent from the prior year. It operates 1,778 stores across the United States. In addition to opening stores in Canada this year, Target also plans to add 15 to 20 new U.S. stores.

In late November, Target launched a cross-country initiative in Canada in preparation for its debut there. Over a two-week period, a Target-themed caravan made stops in close to two-dozen cities across the country, and the stops coincided with various events that were open to the public.

In July, Target unveiled the locations of its initial store openings in Canada. To see the complete list of locations and the time frame in which they will open, click here.