Retail death watch in Canada: Target, Sony, Mexx, and more

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      Just as the Oscar nominations were being announced today, a series of closure announcements made for a grim day on Canada's retail scene.

      Two major retailers are calling it quits in Canada.

      Target Canada announced on January 15 that it will close its 133 stores across Canada. The U.S.–based retailer launched in Canada in March 2013 to high expectations.

      Unfortunately, due to numerous problems, such as higher prices and less selection in Canada than the U.S., it never established itself in the Canadian market. Consequently, the company lost about $2 billion over two years. The closures mean 18,000 employees will lose their jobs.

      Many of Target's locations were formerly Zellers stores.

      Meanwhile, Sony Canada also announced it will shut down all its stores over the next six to eight weeks. It has 14 stores, with three of them in the Lower Mainland.

      The Japan-based company has not released a statement explaining why the stores are being closed. The closures were announced in the wake of the much-publicized Sony Entertainment hack linked to the release of the Vancouver-shot film The Interview.

      On the fashion retail scene, Mexx Canada, which filed for bankruptcy last year, will begin closing its stores this week and the company will liquidate 95 stores at 25 locations by the end of February. About 250 jobs will be lost. Its head office in Montreal will close in March.

      It has nine stores in the Lower Mainland, including on Robson Street and at Metrotown. The Netherlands-based company's closures in Canada follow announcements by fashion retailers Smart Set and Jacobs to also end operations.

      On the local culinary front, the Vancouver raw vegan eatery Gorilla Food also announced that it is shuttering its two locations.

      As if that's not enough, Canada's gay and lesbian newspaper Xtra, which began publication in Toronto in 1984 with expansions to Ottawa and Vancouver, announced that it would stop publishing its print edition and instead focus on its digital version.

      Although Canada's LGBT communities have made considerable gains over the duration of the publication's existence, the ending of the print edition and its street presence will be considered a loss for many LGBT readers. 

      However, where one business ends, another potentially begins, as the Georgia Straight's Carlito Pablo reports.



      Its Targets Fault

      Jan 15, 2015 at 3:42pm

      The American and Canadian targets are so different.
      Canadians were excited Target was coming to Canada because we thought we would have access to the same products with similar prices. We were fooled.

      The products are no where near what is available in the USA.
      Don't confuse USA stores operating in Canada to give Canadians access to USA products or prices.
      Shop across the boarder. Problem solved.

      Then maybe, just maybe the Canadian market will have no choice but to decrease their prices to win us back.


      Jan 15, 2015 at 4:47pm

      It's a bad time for no frills big boxes. Best Buy is on tenterhooks, bookstores are barely in it. If you're not going to give service (Nordstrom) then you have to give deals, and that means Amazon/AliBaba/whatever.

      Mexx is just not a good value and Le Chateau somehow thinks that people would pay $60 for a Le Chateau shirt. Get over yourself, Le Chateau. You're a knockoff retailer. Zara ate your lunch.

      It's one thing to be a boutique retailer if people love your halo products (Apple), quite another to be wracked with quality control and user experience issues (Microsoft, Sony).

      Stanley Q Woodvine

      Jan 15, 2015 at 5:37pm

      The Bombay furniture chain went into bankruptcy protection in August. The location on South Granville replaced a store in the Mantique chain which went under many years ago now.

      Grand & Toy was closing its remaining 19 Canadian stores late last year.

      A salesperson I know for a local paper products company told me last year how he noticed a new organic grocery chain getting ready to open a location near Davie and Denman.

      They told him not to bother pitching his wares though. There wasn't going to be a grand opening, the chain had just gone bankrupt.

      Canada...putting the "bust" in robust economy!


      Jan 15, 2015 at 9:31pm

      not to mention all video game offices that closed in Vancouver
      Radical, Rockstar, Ubisoft

      vancouver...putting the fail in @fail


      Jan 16, 2015 at 7:59am

      "Then maybe, just maybe the Canadian market will have no choice but to decrease their prices to win us back."

      Not sure where you've been but the Canadian market doesn't really set the prices and there aren't many store owners who are getting rich. Canada does not have the volume purchasing power to get low pricing on anything crossing the border, not even for US company's operating here. The prices in Canada will always be higher than the US and encouraging people to shop across the border and online will only make it worse. If you can't afford to shop in Canada, then maybe you are buying too much crap to begin with. There is a reason why Canadian's create more garbage per capita than any other culture on earth - we're addicted to buying shit.


      Jan 16, 2015 at 8:12am


      I'm probably not the only one, but I took to shopping at Target just to spite shopping at Real Canadian Superstore. Sure if I wanted to buy produce I'd still have to go there, but the T&T or the Safeway were also options.

      But what to replace Target with? There's probably quite a few retailers that only exist in Ontario that could come here, but they won't. No distribution channel, and they would have the same problem as Target if they opened a dozen stores at once.

      Few companies can just open more than a handful of stores, and Western Canada and Central Canada can be quite different. I'd suggest tastes are different enough that had Target simply opened the Metro Vancouver, and Toronto locations and waited long enough to get distribution organized, they still could have bought the Zellers locations over time. The rush to grab all those locations at once... of which few were even prime locations, probably doomed Target before it ever set foot here.

      Look at how many Walmarts are in Metro Vancouver, and then compare that with Costco. The only good Walmart location in Metro Vancouver is at Lougheed in Burnaby. Costco has 3 good locations. Now look at Canadian Tire with 4 locations.

      None of these are around Metrotown, which is the dead center of Metro Vancouver. Target had great potential here. Half the department stores around Metrotown are owned by Loblaws.

      But now I'll just have to hope that Walmart or Canadian Tire tries to fill that space at Metropolis. And at this point I think another grocery store would do better because it's always overcrowded at Canadian Superstore and T&T (because both stores are understaffed.)


      Jan 16, 2015 at 12:29pm

      Misa, you're right. I hope it's a Walmart that comes to Metrotown.


      Jan 16, 2015 at 2:27pm


      FYI, you're still shopping at Superstore when you shop at T&T...they're both owned by Loblaw's. Safeway is now owned by Save on Foods.


      Jan 16, 2015 at 2:41pm

      "canada doesn't have the volume to offer US price" ???

      Maybe if Canada didn't have a freakin Taxe on every single part of the production of each product that would help ! c'mon guys one article is taxed what 50 times during the building process ??? let's not lie to our self here ! it's not because we don't buy a big volume it's because we TAXE the plastic then we taxe the molding of the plastic then we taxe the cut of the plastic then we taxe the cooking of the plastic then we taxe the confection of the article then we taxe transport and there you go you have the handle of your pair of scissor now let's make the blade !!!

      Consumer Dropout

      Jan 16, 2015 at 2:49pm

      I have never set foot in a Walmart, a Target, or a Costco. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. To my mind, shopping local (NEVER across the border) keeps money in my community. I actually don't mind paying a little more for local products. If more people supported small businesses, they might be able to price products more competitively.

      Big box stores suck the life from communities. All your money goes to head office instead of funding local sports teams and community events. Good riddance to crap vendors like Target.