Walmart expanding big in Canada ... thanks to Target
Last spring was supposed to be Research In Motion’s grand hurrah into the tablet sector.
In May, though it was a bit late to the party already, RIM was finally to unveil its PlayBook, not only the answer to the iPad but rejuvenation for a company that’s BlackBerry market share had started to wane.
Well, what happened? Ahead of the PlayBook’s Apr. 19 release date, Apple swooped in and rushed its iPad 2 to stores by Mar. 11 (Mar. 25 in Canada), completely undercutting the RIM tablet and stamping out any momentum it hoped to build up.
What’s the point? American retailer Target, as you know, is coming to Canada next year after much hullabaloo, so Walmart, of course, is hoping to go all iPad 2 on ‘em.
Walmart’s Canadian unit announced Tuesday it will revamp, remodel or roll out some 4.6 million square feet of retail space in Canada, in the form of renovated stores or altogether new outlets north of the border.
More than $750 million will be allocated to the ambitious program, Walmart’s biggest expansion plan ever, which will go in large part to converting most of the 39 former Zellers locations Walmart’s purchased – the leases being bought from Target last year, in no small twist of irony.
By the end of Jan., 2013, Walmart says it expects to have more than 375 stores in Canada, about 50 more than it had in Jan., 2011.
Certainly, this is a big play, but will it have the same undercut strategy to Target’s arrival that the iPad 2 did to the PlayBook?
In terms of buzz, you’d be hard-pressed to find a store coming to Canada with as much fervour as Target, which has been a long-awaited Canadian arrival since as far back as 1994.
Now that it’s real, now that Target’s even announced its first 105 locations, there are plenty of shoppers counting down the days when they don’t need a passport to shop Tarjay, which surely has more cache in the retail world that Walmart does. In other words, Target is cool, Walmart is not.
But until we see what’s included in Walmart’s $750 million Canadian re-do, which ought to place a premium on improving its fashion offerings that have made Target so coveted, it can’t be speculated as to whether the world’s largest retailer can sap up a bit of Target’s grand opening momentum.
What’s sure, though, is that Walmart will have to stay on its feet. With other big U.S. retailers Kohl’s and Nordstrom sniffing around the Canadian landscape, there’ll be no shortage of competition for your consumer dollars.
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money