DENVER — Protests over Target Corp.’s handling of its acquisition of Zellers Inc. properties in Canada dimmed the mood of the U.S. discounter’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday.
The Minneapolis-based retailer is guarded about business for the near term after slashing its second-quarter outlook. Speaking to shareholders inside a new, but bare, store location at 7777 East Hampden Avenue that will be unveiled next month, Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, “We have a cautious view for the near term. First-quarter sales [of $498 million] fell short of our expectations.”
Steinhafel said the weaker performance was due in large part to soft sales in weather-related categories and the federal payroll tax increase that went into effect earlier this year.
The meeting took place as a crowd of 80-plus protestors assembled in the store’s parking lot, upset over the reported firing of thousands of employees of Zellers when Target paid $1.8 billion to acquire leasehold interests for more than 200 Zellers sites in 2011. Most of those will become Target stores. Workers union UFCW Canada said it has anecdotal evidence that only 1 or 2 percent of the former Zellers employees have been rehired at Target stores.
Responding to one of a handful of proxy shareholder questions regarding the controversy, Steinhafel said Target has hired “hundreds of Zellers employees” but would not disclose more specific hiring data. “We did not terminate any Zellers workers,” Steinhafel said, adding that 1 percent was a “theoretical number someone made up.”
Protestors wore red “Fairness to Zellers Workers Now” T-shirts with white lettering, presumably to mimic uniforms worn by Target employees. “Target refused to acknowledge the fact that they fired 25,000 workers in Canada,” spokesman Kevin Shimmin, national representative for UFCW Canada, told the group immediately following the meeting. “They tried to say that they made a real-estate transaction and had no responsibility to any of those people.”
Having already opened 48 units this year, Steinhafel said Target plans to have 124 LEED-certified stores in all 10 Canadian provinces by yearend.
Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said apparel continues to be an important business for Target, which on June 30 will launch a line from Lauren Bush Lauren and FEED Projects, an organization that fights world hunger. A collaboration with 3.1 Phillip Lim will follow this fall.
“Design collaborations have, and will continue to, play a critical role in differentiating Target and building excitement around our brand,” Thomas said. Apparel and accessories are 19 percent of Target’s overall annual sales, according to the annual report distributed at the Denver meeting.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty