President of Target Canada Expresses Regret, Forges Ahead

By Joel Cuttiford

After a disastrous launch and dismal first year, Target Canada executives are owning up to the company’s mistakes and vowing to turn things around.

Newly appointed president Mark Schindele said yesterday that Target Corporation was overly ambitious when it opened 124 stores and three distribution centers in Canada over a 12-month period.

“If I could build a time machine and go back, we would’ve liked to have a slower approach,” Schindele said in an interview.

“It was too much in too short a window. Our biggest issue (was) that we needed more time.”

Schindele formerly worked for Target in the United States as senior vice president of merchandising operations.  He was brought to Canada to replace Tony Fisher, who was fired from the position in May.

Now that Target executives have identified where the company fell short, Schindele said he believes the company will be able to impress Canadians with prices that beat its competitors and exclusive products that will bring people back into its stores.

Schindele explained Target Canada’s problem with empty shelves by saying that the company moved too quickly to push inventory into its stores which left them unable to forecast when they needed to restock best-selling items.

Customers also complained about the prices, as 1,000 items were off the radar when compared with competitors like Walmart.

Additionally, Target didn’t know the Canadian market well enough to determine which locations would sell out of popular seasonal items, though Schindele said that the retailer has come to understand the needs of each individual store much better over the past year.

Target’s plans to turn the chain around will take shape over the next few months and will include a price-match policy that will make it easier for shoppers to get the lowest prices available.  In addition to weekly flyers, Target will honor price matches with several major online retailers including Amazon.  They will also make it easier for customers to present price comparisons at the cash register rather than having to do so at the customer service counter.

The retailer will also offer a broader line of exclusive products from the apparel section, with promises to carry more lines of Roots’ Beaver Canoe clothing and a larger selection of maternity items. Target will also begin to stock plus-sized clothes for the first time in the country.

In addition to these changes, Target faces the difficult task of winning back scores of shoppers who have written them off due to negative experiences over the past year.  Schindele said he's confident that more exclusives and better pricing will help shift the tide in Target's favor.

“It all starts with having the right content in the store, being priced right and the right inventory levels,” he said.

“That’s what will change our story.”

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