retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Forbes has an interesting column about how Walmart has managed to succeed in Canada while Target did so badly there that its new CEO, Brian Cornell, decided to shut down its operations there.

Among the reasons cited in the piece, by FierceRetail's Laura Heller:

Walmart got there first - in 1994. Target waited until 2011, and then picked locations that had underperformed for the retailer from which it acquired them. Plus, the earlier move meant that Walmart was able to establish a beachhead with less intense competition.

Walmart actually started out small - opening its traditional discount stores there before moving on to the larger and more ambitious supercenter format.

Third, "Walmart brought its everyday low price strategy to Canadian shoppers with a consistent assortment. Target priced items higher in the Canadian stores and failed to bring its signature brands and style to the new market, enraging customers who had previously driven across the border and were not just familiar with Target, but had keenly anticipated its arrival."

Even as Target was licking the wounds wrought north of the border, Walmart Canada announced last week that it "will grand open 11 supercentres by January 29 completing its expansion for the company's current fiscal year ending January 31, 2015. These completed real estate projects bring Walmart Canada's total store count to 394 stores, including 280 supercentres and 114 discount stores ... These stores are part of the 35 Supercentre projects planned for the company's fiscal year ending January 31, 2014. The projects include building new stores and expanding, remodeling or relocating existing stores. Including investments in its distribution network and ecommerce, the projects represent an investment of more than $500 million in the Canadian economy. For the first time, both PEI Walmart locations will offer a full complement of fresh groceries."
KC's View:
The question, for me, about Target's failure in Canada is whether it was a failure of leadership, a failure of vision, a failure of execution, or, most likely, some combination of all three.