Target Corporation announced today that it plans to discontinue operating stores in Canada because it couldn’t project being profitable in this country for at least six years.
As a part of that process, this morning Target Canada filed an application for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Commercial List) in Toronto
“When I joined Target, I promised our team and shareholders that I would take a hard look at our business and operations in an effort to improve our performance and transform our company. After a thorough review of our Canadian performance and careful consideration of the implications of all options, we were unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021. Personally, this was a very difficult decision, but it was the right decision for our company. With the full support of Target Corporation’s Board of Directors, we have determined that it is in the best interest of our business and our shareholders to exit the Canadian market and focus on driving growth and building further momentum in our U.S. business,” Brian Cornell, Target Corporation Chairman and CEO says in a statement on the company’s website.
Target Canada currently has 133 stores across the country, including in Campbell River, and employs approximately 17,600 people. The retailer has B.C. locations in Campbell River, Nanaimo, Courtenay, Richmond, Victoria, Delta, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Cranbrook, Coquitlam, Surrey, Vernon, Langley, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Burnaby, Prince George, Kamloops and Saanich.
To ensure fair treatment of Target Canada employees, Target Corporation is seeking the Court’s approval to voluntarily make cash contributions of C$70 million (approximately US$59 million) into an Employee Trust, the company statement says. Upon approval by the Court, the proposed trust would provide that nearly all Target Canada-based employees receive a minimum of 16 weeks of compensation, including wages and benefits coverage for employees who are not required for the full wind-down period. Target Canada stores will remain open during the liquidation process.
As part of its application, Target Canada is seeking the appointment of Alvarez & Marsal Canada as Monitor in the CCAA proceedings to oversee the liquidation and wind-down process for Target Canada and its subsidiaries. Subject to Court approval, Target Corporation has committed to provide a US$175 million debtor-in-possession credit facility to finance Target Canada’s operations during the CCAA proceedings. Target Canada is also seeking court approval to engage Lazard to advise Target Canada in connection with the sale of its real estate assets.
“The Target Canada team has worked tirelessly to improve the fundamentals, fix operations and build a deeper relationship with our guests. We hoped that these efforts in Canada would lead to a successful holiday season, but we did not see the required step-change in our holiday performance,” said Cornell. “There is no doubt that the next several weeks will be difficult, but we will make every effort to handle our exit in an appropriate and orderly way.”
Target opened in Campbell River in May 2013 after spending approximately $11 million renovating its store in the Discovery Harbour Mall. The store had moved into the former Zellers location.
In January 2012, the U.S.-based retailer spent $1.8 billion to buy out 220 Zellers leases across the country. Some operations were closed, but Campbell River made the cut
Target Corporation expects to report approximately $5.4 billion of pre-tax losses on discontinued operations in the fourth quarter of 2014, driven primarily by the write-down of the Corporation’s investment in Target Canada, along with costs associated with exit or disposal activities and quarter-to-date Canadian Segment operating losses prior to today’s filing. Target Corporation expects to report approximately $275 million of pre-tax losses on discontinued operations in fiscal 2015.
Target Corporation’s cash costs to discontinue Canadian operations are expected to be $500 million to $600 million, most of which will occur in the Company’s 2015 fiscal year or later. The company has sufficient resources to fund these expected costs, including cash on hand and ongoing cash generation by its U.S. business.