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Target Canada stores opening in April, officially


Target Canada has confirmed that its highly anticipated Canadian debut won’t officially happen until early April.

But luckily for fans of the cheap-chic retailer, some stores will have a “soft opening” some time in March.

Target U.S. CEO Gregg Steinhafel made the announcement Wednesday during a conference call discussing fourth quarter 2012 results.

According to Lisa Gibson, Target Canada’s spokeswoman, the soft opening will allow the retailer to “fine tune assortments, guest experience, etc.” ahead of its grand opening.

Target has not announced the date of the grand opening, nor which stores will have a "soft open" next month.

Steinhafel told investors the company plans to open 124 stores across Canada in five waves before the holiday season. “April, May and every couple of months beyond that we’re going to open somewhere between 20 and 28 stores,” he said.

The first 24 stores will open in Ontario before moving to Western Canada and then out East.

Target’s impending Canadian launch has consumers buzzing – especially since the debut of its first television commercial.

But executives acknowledged the company’s expansion plans may have a bigger impact on the bottom line than originally projected.

Fourth quarter profits fell two per cent to US$961 million for the period ending February 2, 2013 from $981 million a year earlier.

Analysts originally forecasted that the Canadian launch would chop 25 to 30 cents from earnings per share in 2013. On Wednesday, the company said it expects a 45-cent dilution.

Target CFO John Mulligan said the company expects to spend about $10 to $11 million upgrading each store.

“The sites we obtained in the Zellers deal were extremely well located with very attractive leases,” he said. But the stores were considerably smaller than in the U.S. and, according to Mulligan, “in very poor physical condition.”

Target has negotiated additional adjacent spaces at 40 locations, adding up to 600,000 extra square feet.

For all Target-related news, read Canadian Grocer's Essential Target Reader.

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