Target Canada: a moment in Canadian history


Source, The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service:

According to Yahoo Finance on the day that Target Canada announced that it was discontinuing its operations in Canada there was an approximate 14.5 million increase in volume of its share sales and the stock price rose 3.6%. As an investor this news was exciting. The company had invested $4.4 billion in order to attempt its over ambitious expansion in to Canada suffering $2 billion in losses before it decided to concede this northern territory to those who understood it best (Peterson 2015). Unfortunately, it also meant the Canadian economy would suffer a serious blow due to the sudden loss of jobs for 17,600 people (Malcolm and Horovitz, 2015).

Opening 124 stores in one year (Lindsey 2015) is not merely a daunting task but put simply it is an absurd and reckless idea. Without considerable forethought conceived by strategic masterminds such a venture is sure to fail. It is clear that Target’s overly aggressive push to cut away a portion of the market share in the Canadian retail space was doomed right from the start. This “go big or go home” approach left the retail giant at the mercy of a number of aspects that caused their Canadian dreams of grandeur to run astray. The typical approach of opening a few test stores was ignored by Target, this was noted well by Shaw, “That strategy skirted the path most retailers take in making their first international forays: opening a few test stores and tweaking them in response to consumer demand. If there is evidence of a good appetite, the company can open more.” It is clear that an approach that allowed for slower expansion would have allowed the retail behemoth to educate itself from its mistakes and mitigate the risk of those mistakes on a much more manageable level. To aid in this education process other retail giants like Walmart use properly configured ERP systems that span the diverse aspects of their organization collecting and analyzing data. With such information at their disposal through systems that intertwine between the customer experience, the inventory system, the supply chain, finance and workforce planning, proper strategic initiatives are developed, implemented and evaluated in a timely and controlled fashion.

It was not a lack of appetite from the Canadian consumer that led to the collapse of such a grand opportunity, rather it was a lack of planning, a rush to implement without the appropriate systems at full working capacity. Inventory and automated ordering systems left Target lying at the border like a wounded animal desperately trying to claw its way in to this unknown northern expanse of retail possibilities. This is captured by Shaw as well, “Target was using an entirely new set of systems, supply chain infrastructure and third-party logistics providers in Canada – that proved to be the retailer’s Achilles’ heel.” The resulting distribution nightmare was the reason that too often shelves were left bare and customers would leave dismayed and confused. Target would have likely seen a more profitable future had Target invested in a scalable SCM system and configured it appropriately or in similar fashion to that used by other retail establishments such as Walmart. This would have given Target ample data to analyze and ensure their inventory systems and their automated ordering systems worked interdependently with each other with seamless precision. They also would have recognized what items in inventory were not turning over quickly enough. Understanding what remains for too long in your inventory provides the means to determine how to discount the items for more rapid sales. Stale inventory affects the reputation of the brand, especially if the unwanted items are the only items left to adorn the shelving. Such a sight will only convince customers that they should not return. With such a tool at Target’s disposal and if Target launched their stores in a manner by which they could control the integration of each new store through controlled environments, it is possible Target may have had a fighting chance.

Target’s sloppy expansion into the great white north and its chaotic logistics were not its only failures, it also failed to present itself where a growing number of Canadians make their shopping decisions; online (Sorensen 2015). Instead of canvassing for new opportunities in a growing online market, for whatever reason, Target decided to purchase the leaseholds of the dismally performing Zellers stores. In my opinion the less than optimal locations of these Zellers stores played some significance to the demise of Zellers and HBC was lucky to find “some poor sucker” willing to take them off their balance sheet. The mixture of poor locations along with expensive brick and mortar distribution immediately diluted the potential for Target’s success. A more appropriate alternative would have been to invest in a CRM that could integrate online customer experiences and track customer preferences. This likely would have resulted in better decisions regarding the prices the market was willing to bare and shopping habits of those interested in Target’s wares. With this information I believe that Target would have opened fewer outlets in order to provide the shopping experience at the price that customers were expecting (Lindsey 2015).  Instead however Target will forever be known now as expressed in Supply Chain 24/7, “History will show this as being one of the greatest supply chain disasters in Canadian history.” (Wulfraat 2015).



Yahoo! Finance. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from

Peterson, H. (2015). 5 reasons Target failed in Canada. Business Insider. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from

Malcolm, H., & Horovitz, B. (2015, January 15). Target to shutter all stores in Canada. USA Today. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from

Wulfraat, M. (2015, January 17). Supply chain miseries doom Target in Canada. Supply Chain 24/7. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from

Lindsey, K. (2015, January 21). Why Target missed the bullseye in Canada. Retail Dive. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from

Shaw, H. (2015, January 15). Target Corp’s spectacular Canada flop: A gold standard case study for what retailers shouldn’t do. Financial Post. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from

Sorensen, C. (2015, January 15). Why Target missed its mark so badly. Maclean’s. Retrieved March 12, 2018 from

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Inspired By: “Big Data: The Winning Formula In Sports” by Bernard Marr

Reading the article, “Big Data: The Winning Formula In Sports” by Bernard Marr reminded me of my childhood and the countless hours I spent watching my father in the gym. He was a professional bodybuilder, and I recall that even in the 1980s data was calculated for the purpose of obtaining peak performance. As mentioned in the article, calorie intake is a particular information stream that professional athletes pay attention to. This is their fuel, it is what allows them the energy they need to train and perform, and while this relevant information contributes to their success it is also closely monitored and controlled to ensure excess weight doesn’t hamper their performance. My father would track his calories using the labels on the food he ate along with a pencil and journal, today online data systems allow people to track their calorie intake using timely and simple information through a few taps on an app available on a smartphone. These apps analyze a person’s calorie intake almost instantly.

Training time was an intense period for everyone in the household as my father tracked every repetition and set of a weight lifted or exercise performed. He would monitor his heart rate by counting his pulse using his index and middle finger to ensure he was training at an appropriate intensity. Today however, as explained in the article training equipment has become not just more sophisticated but a “standard piece of the kit for every player” (Marr 2015). Using the complete information available a diagnostic breakdown can occur real time using wearable technology such as heart monitors and athletes obtain reliable and timely information that can help them understand what their peek performance is, and how long it can be maintained. The ability to ensure peek training levels most certainly contributes to the success of athletes today.

My father’s movements were tracked by someone choreographing his routine poses for the stage through the use of a video camera and a VHS player which could be analyzed afterwards once you found a television to connect the equipment to. Technology today however not only provides us with more accessible information but also more flexible information such as in the example where 8 cameras installed in a stadium give users the ability to, “monitor 12,000 soccer matches around the world” (Marr 2015). This system allows the analysis of players movements and interactions with the ball. It provides insights regarding team and player dynamics by “tracking 10 data points per second for every player” (Marr 2015). Computers then take this digital video footage and filter the information so an analyst can manually code the synergy that players have with the ball. The level of analysis undergone though this process, while perhaps considered by some as intensive produces accurate information that can be used to enhance player performance and team strategy.

While large cable machines used for weightlifting certainly resembled the play structures you typically found in the playground for children through the 1980s, it was made very clear to me the countless ways I could injure myself if not careful. The levels of injury that occur is another area where improvements have been made through the use of wearable technology according to (Marr 2015). Tracking data such as the intensity of the activities being performed by athletes and the impact of collisions reliable information has been collected and analyzed that assist in reducing injuries. Understanding the performance levels where athletes are fatigued will allow teams to schedule rotations of the players that minimize the effects of or injuries caused by poor decisions while fatigued.

Examining archived or historical information produces further insights into longitudinal patterns so long as this is accessible information.  This provides higher levels of validity to conclusions drawn from other types of information so long as that which was documented in the past is also considered reliable information.

The benefits of evidence-based decisions were certainly demonstrated by Marr in this well-crafted article. Illustrating that the use of various forms of information such as: calorie intake, training levels, interaction counts, injury levels and historical can prove beneficial to the entertainment and sports industry. The manner in which this information is collected today strengthens characteristics of the information with regards to accessibility, accuracy, completeness, flexibility, relevancy, reliability, and timeliness of its collection, storage and analysis.



Marr, B., (2015). Big Data: The Winning Formula In Sports. Forbes. Retrieved from

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2017 – Hope and Motivation

When you feel like you are going in circles, sometimes it isn’t that bad.

2017 was indeed a year of hope and renewal, physically, emotionally and mentally for me and carried with it some learning moments as I ventured into new projects.

I must start this year by acknowledging the wonderful team of people I have come to cherish working with. I work for a leader whose profound wisdom provides guidance, yet she still provides acknowledgement and gratitude during moments of humbleness expressing the individual value I bring to the team. This in itself is a refreshing experience. My coworkers and I have come together as a team where our strengths compliment each other so incredibly well that I look forward to each experience we share. These experiences continue to drive us forward towards meeting our goals. Without this fantastic group of people, it would have been difficult to successfully overcome the many challenges we faced in our changing work environment. To those of you that I work with each day, know that I appreciate you and the many efforts you provide every day. I can not express to you how much I appreciate the welcoming environment and leadership you provide to me and with me on an ongoing basis.

Just as welcoming and helpful was the staff that assisted me at the University of Manitoba as I tried my hands as an instructor. I felt this was a rewarding and positive experience, and look forward to my next opportunity to engage with students again.

I have also been attending classes through the University of Winnipeg. I have been taking 3 courses per term in order to enhance my knowledge surrounding topics of interest. While doing so, I have had the pleasure of meeting an array of wonderful people with whom I have shared some fantastic conversations. I was also surprised and honoured this past year to receive an invitation to join the Golden Key International Honour Society through the local UofW chapter. In order to ensure I am able to balance my time, I take one class in person and the others are taken online. I must commend the instructors who provide the online lectures, they are very well done and responsive to the inquiries made by students outside the class environment. The one-hour lectures provided over the internet have also been perfect for me to watch while I run in the mornings on the treadmill at home.

My health was a challenge that I had to face near the end of 2016. I had lost all sense of balance and had allowed myself to reach a weight of nearly 300 pounds. I am happy to inform you that I have lost 38 pounds so far through my quest to re-balance my life. A healthier diet, some exercise, but most of all less stress and sleeping well enough so that I now have enough energy to get me through my day. These continue to propel me towards my goals in a healthy way. One of the moments that provided clarity regarding my progress in overcoming the unhealthy mess I left behind was when my four-year-old daughter innocently said with a smile and a look of surprise in those big brown eyes, “Dad, your tummy is getting smaller!” “Good”, I said, “it is important to take care of your health and Dad is working hard to be healthier.” With that in mind I am glad to know that this experience is providing an opportunity to role model healthy behaviours for my children.

My children continue to give me reason to be proud of each of them. Our oldest is maturing into a wonderful young woman even while occasionally presenting the challenges of being a teen in today’s world. Our most recent adventures together have consisted of her driving through the streets of Winnipeg while I watch and guide her. Our six-year-old is doing well in school, piano, swimming, and dance. Just prior to writing this, we sat together so I could help her read a Star Wars story book. Our four-year-old has progressively demonstrated her passion for play and is also doing well in school, dance and looking forward to skating this upcoming year with her sister. This afternoon she cuddled up beside me after placing a number of stuffed toys around me while I was reading a book for one of my classes. My son at only one and a half years amazes me each day as he develops his motor skills and speech. Just recently he started singing “Paw Patrol” over and over again, apparently, he has become a fan of this show. I can’t express how lucky I feel that I am able to enjoy so many amazing moments with all of our children and watch them develop in to wonderful people. One of our favorite moments to share is of course in our kitchen as we bake all sorts of wonderful things together. One day, my children will be master cinnamon roll makers.

My wife and I have also been working hard to meet some goals. If there is one person I try my hardest to ensure is always a priority in my life, it is her. In the time we have been together we have been through many challenges, but we always come out better for it in the end. Be it through our family, our business interests, our educational goals or those moments we share on our dates to Costco (sometimes you have to take what you can get), I will always strive with the greatest intent to strengthen our relationship so we can enjoy our lives together.

My final thoughts about 2017 are this:

2017 was a time of renewed hope through which the motivation was created to see me through the many challenges that I faced. By embracing change and believing that “better” was “achievable” I created a self-fulfilling prophecy that continues to build momentum into 2018.

2018, even with the many changes and choices I know you are going to bring, I welcome you. I know that no matter what we face, we will always come out better for it in the end.

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Embrace Diversity, Let Go of Your Anger

Victoria 2017Recent events have given me the opportunity to remember just how much I cherish and value diversity in our society. I am astonished that in 2017 we find ourselves having to remind others, including those who are supposed to be our role models that regardless of our differences in this world, it is our commonalities that bring us together. It is our compassion, which has been described as unconditional love that can allow us to see through the veil of hate clouding the minds of those who are unable to let go of the pain they chose to carry within. I have asked myself recently, “how is it that people in 2017 can come to feel so passionately about something that is clearly not in the best interest of our communities?” “What hurt are these people clinging to that is placing a mask over their eyes causing them to be blind to the amazing achievements we as human beings create when we work together towards a common goal?”

Then it occurred to me, it is because some people are clinging to a story that they truly believe is the truth. Something has likely occurred in their lives to present them with this twisted point of view and so, they have become lost. In my lifetime, I have also realized that even when people become misguided and have lost their direction, more often than not there is still hope. Sometimes, the ability to change the social framing of events so that others might be willing to listen can happen in just a single conversation. In other cases, it can take years of dedicated work to shift the balance and give opportunity for alternative perspectives to be understood. Clearly, there is much work we still have to do as a society to ensure that the perceptions we create bring joy and inspire others to pursue a path that perpetuates a sustainable, healthy and loving society for all. But I have hope that it can be achieved.

To do this, we have to break down the barriers that prevent us from understanding each other. We need to let go of the painful past that we burden ourselves with and we need to forgive those who have wronged us. We should learn from our past rather than allowing the wicked to perpetuate the cycle of abuse that breeds discontent. We need to be critical of what we have been taught, and ask ourselves the following more often, “How does this perspective strengthen our society?” and let me be clear that when I use the word “society” I do not mean some form of fraternity, cult or faction of people. I define our society as a community of human beings that inhabit the Earth. “What have we done to inspire love rather than hate?” and when I say love I speak of the general sense of caring that is appreciated by all.  “How have we behaved today to bring hope to others where perhaps it was beginning to fade?” because hope is what can motivate others to achieve greatness. “In what fashion have we demonstrated love for ourselves and love for the communities that we serve?” because the easiest way to inspire others is to act as a role model that they aspire to imitate. And the last question we should ask ourselves more often is “In what way have we ensured that seven generations from today we will be remembered as someone who cared about a sustainable future for everyone?” because our world is a fragile giant that is slowly withering away, and we as a human race won’t survive without it.

If you are angry, let it go before it breeds hate and causes the suffering of those around you and from within. Then be the change that you want to inspire in others, because if nobody starts, then nothing will change.

Do you value diversity in our world?

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