Tony Fisher fired as Target Canada president

Target has fired the president of its troubled Canadian operations, Tony Fisher, and replaced him with a 15-year U.S. company veteran.
Tony Fisher is out of a job at the Canadian arm of the retail giant, after promises of huge selection and rock-bottom prices went largely unfulfilled 2:41

Target has sacked the president of its Canadian operations and replaced him with a 15-year veteran of the company's U.S. operations.

Effective immediately, Mark Schindele, 45, who was senior vice-president of merchandising operations, will replace Tony Fisher as head of the Canadian operation. 

Schindele has played a key role in launching new store formats like Target Express and CityTarget in the U.S.

"One of our key priorities is improving performance in Canada more rapidly and we believe it is important to be aggressive," the parent company's interim CEO, John Mulligan, said in a statement. "We have a committed team who is focused on delivering an outstanding shopping experience to our Canadian guests and getting our performance on track."

Minneapolis-based Target will also name a non-executive chair in Canada.

In the newly created advisory role, the chair will provide counsel and support to the president of Target Canada to ensure all strategies and tactics align with the Canadian marketplace.

Target opened more than 100 stores in Canada to much fanfare in late 2012, but the early returns have been underwhelming, with the Canadian unit losing about $1 billion since launch. The company is also trying to recover from a massive data breach in the U.S. that has cost it customer trust.

Canadian shoppers have complained that prices are too high, and the Canadian stores have been wrestling with inventory problems.

"Target came here trying to stoke expectations and they were very successful in that," retail analyst Doug Stephens says. "Their problems began with delivering on the ground."

Stephens says Target ran into a Canadian consumer base eager for the type of a shopping experience it had heard about in the U.S., but the company was quickly plagued by avoidable problems in their supply chain. 

"These aren't problems you run into two days before your launch," he says, "and the question is why has it taken them so long to recover?"

The general consumer response to Target's much ballyhooed Canadian launch is that the shopping experience is a comparable one to the Zellers experience it replaced — not an encouraging sign for Target, Stephens says.

Retail analyst Brian Yarbrough at Edward Jones says the decision to make a change at the top shows Target is committed to the Canadian marketplace in the long term.

"This board is really stepping up to the plate and saying: We've had some troubles in the U.S. with the data breach, and in Canada operations have been nothing but a total disappointment," Yarbrough said. "We have to make some changes fast and we need to move much quicker to improve the transition."

The news comes two weeks after Target announced the abrupt departure of CEO Gregg Steinhafel. 

Target's net income fell 34.3 per cent to $1.97 billion in the year ended Feb. 1. Revenue slipped 1 per cent to $72.6 billion.

Target is expected to report first-quarter financial results Wednesday.

With files from The Associated Press


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