New competition comes to Canada
Walmart Canada has a few years to get ready for the arrival of Target following yesterday’s major announcement that its arch rival would be heading north of the border via an acquisition. That is the same strategy Walmart employed all the way back in 1994 when it bought 122 former Woolco stores. Walmart now operates 323 stores in Canada, and by the time Target gets around to opening its first units in 2013 that figure will probably be closer to 400. Even so, the arrival of between 100 to 150 new Target stores in 2013 and 2014 is sure to place a new type of competitive pressure on Walmart’s Canadian operations even though the retailer is used to butting heads with Target in the U.S. Target already enjoys brand equity in Canada and will be able to create a sense of anticipation around its arrival that is sure to create traffic challenges for Walmart, as those shoppers who haven’t had an opportunity to experience Target’s brand of retail in the United States will be eager to see what all the fuss is about. The fact that Target has placed its top marketing executive, Michael Francis, in charge of the executive committee that will oversee the retailer’s entry into the market is an indication that Target’s arrival will be announced with tremendous fanfare.