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.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion