Starts and changes

Target opens more stores and pairs up with Michael Buble, Sobeys picks up some gas, Canadian Tire gets into the small-format fray and Hudson's Bay tests out a retro look.

Starts

  • Target’s announced the March 19 opening of 17 new locations across Ontario, largely in the GTA region, and will roll out another four on March 28, bringing the total store openings for the month to 24. It has also tapped Canadian crooner Michael Buble for its first entertainment partnership. The retailer will carry a special, exclusive-to-Target edition of the singer’s sixth album, which includes three bonus tracks. Last year, the Canadian government mandated that the retailer carry “uniquely Canadian cultural products,” and the Buble exclusive follows the brand’s Roots sweat-line partnership, announced in January.
  • Sobeys’ parent company, Empire, has acquired 236 gas and convenience stores to boost the company’s revenue in the wake of a new super-competitive market. The grocery chain will face increased competition from Walmart as it expands its grocery offerings, and Target, which carries a limited selection of foods. Sobeys’ main competition, Loblaws, also runs a branded gas chain, opening up the possibility for a similar move on its part.

Changes

  • In the heating-up home improvement market, Canadian Tire is going to test out smaller format stores in malls this summer. This follows similar moves by Best Buy, Future Shop, Sobeys and Canadian Tire competitor Rona, which recently opened three edited stores in the GTA.
  • The Hudson’s Bay is tapping its roots as it looks to its future. With Nordstrom’s 2014 arrival, the department store has reverted back to including the “Hudson’s” in its name (and playing up its Canadian roots), since it changed to The Bay in 1965. Along with the name change, Hudson’s Bay debuted a retro logo, designed by Canadian Mark Summers. Canadian Tire made a similar made-in-Canada patriotic play last year in anticipation for Target’s arrival.
  • In a move that bucks retail trends, online shops are starting to talk about going offline. Clearlycontacts.ca, a Canadian store that sells contact lenses and glasses at super-competitive prices, is opening a bricks-and-mortar shop on March 23. People will be able to try on glasses through a “virtual” station, which will snap a photo and allow them to switch frames virtually. No word yet on how prices will be affected to account for the new overhead.