Target Canada President Talks Expansion

Target Canada, Tony Fisher | BCBusiness
Target Canada president Tony Fisher speaks at a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon.

Tony Fisher, president of Target Canada, discusses the company’s rapid rollout across the country

In two weeks from now there will be 24 Target locations open across B.C. The first locations in the rapid Target rollout open tomorrow, including Coquitlam, Langley and seven more across the province. President of Target Canada Tony Fisher addressed a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon crowd this afternoon, talking about the path from announcing the Canadian expansion back in January 2011 to covering the country coast to coast with 124 locations by the end of 2013.

He spent the first ten minutes talking hockey—including Canada’s men’s hockey defeat of Team U.S.A. in the 2010 Winter Olympics—which shows that the man knows his audience. That sentiment of humility and familiarization bleeds into the company’s strategy for its massive Canadian retail expansion. “I knew we had a lot to learn,” says Fisher. “We couldn’t just come out and say, ‘We know how to do things here—because we were successful in the U.S., we think we’re going to be successful in Canada.’ We had to learn a lot. We had to ask people questions, we had to find the right resources.”

Target Tidbits

  • The company spent $10-12 million in upgrades on each Zellers location that would become a Target
  • Target will carry famed Canadian brand Roots
  • Target is pursuing 100-per-cent LEED certification on all of its Canadian locations
  • Target Canada has already surpassed one million “likes” on its Facebook page

Canada is a prime retail landscape for Target to tap into, especially due to the brand’s existing popularity among cross-border shoppers. “We started with 70-per-cent brand recognition in our core [Canadian] demographic,” says Fisher, adding that it has increased to more than 90 per cent over the past two years.

Over 30,000 Canadians hold a U.S. Target Red Card (the company’s credit or debit card that gives consumers 5-per-cent off with each purchase), and over the past three months, they’ve issued nearly as many Canadian Target Red Cards.

Despite existing popularity levels, Target is pushing hard with brand awareness as part of its approach to embedding itself in the Canadian retail landscape. What Fisher calls “enhancing the presence” of Target materializes as a comprehensive advertising campaign that has blanketed the brand across the country, starting with its first Canadian TV spot during the Oscars in February 2013.

Part of that campaign to target Canadians has included Bullseye Beach—throwing pop-up parties at five Canadian beaches—a presence at the Toronto Film Festival and its Home for the Holidays tour, which brought pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen back to her hometown, Mission, B.C., for a special concert.

“It took us nearly 50 years to establish a coast-to-coast presence in the U.S. and we’re doing that here in less than three,” Fisher says. With 124 locations to be open across Canada by the end of 2013 and a projected 200 in the next ten years, Target still has its work cut out for it.