By  on January 29, 2014

Target Corp. intends to add nine stores to its 124-unit fleet in Canada this year, the majority of them in Ontario.

Target, which acquired the rights to acquire up to 220 Zellers store leases from Hudson’s Bay in 2011, said it will open five stores in Ontario and single units in the provinces of Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.

This spring, Target units will open at The Stockyards in Toronto, Ontario; Kingsway Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, and Hillside Centre in Victoria, British Columbia. This summer will see new Target stores at Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga, Ontario; Park Place in Barrie, Ontario, and Carrefour Candiac in Candiac, Quebec.

The final three units, to open in the fall, will be in St. Laurent, Ottawa, Ontario; Sheridan Centre in Mississauga, and Polo Park in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“The past year marked a major milestone for Target aws we delivered on the unprecedented goal of opening 124 Target stores across 10 provinces in 2013,” said Tony Fisher, president of Target Canada. “As we head into 2014, we will continue to enhance the guest experience at all stores while continuing to expand our presence in new Canadian neighborhoods.”

The new stores each will employ about 150 workers, the average for its existing stores in the market.

Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Minneapolis-based Target, had earlier said that the company expects its Canadian operations to generate “$6 billion or more in sales” and 80 cents in earnings per share by 2017.

As its scale north of the U.S. border increased, the company was beset by difficulties in its Canadian operations. On a November conference call to discuss third-quarter results, Steinhafel said gross margin in Canada was “unusually low,” leading to higher than expected markdowns and diluted of profits.

Earlier this month, Canada figured prominently in Target’s reduction in fourth-quarter guidance, with dilution, originally expected to be between 22 and 32 cents a share, estimated to finish the three-month period at 45 cents “driven by the gross margin impact of continued efforts to clear excess inventory.”

Discussion of the difficulties in Canada has been eclipsed by the recent focus on its holiday security breach.

During a presentation to the financial community in late October, Steinhafel commented, “Initial sales in Canada have fallen short of expectations. We remain confident. These are great locations. We invested to renovate them, and they’re outstanding physical assets. We will reach our long-range financial goals in the Canadian segment.”

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