Wal-Mart acquires Australian tech start-up
New York City — Wal-Mart Stores has acquired Australian tech start-up Grabble for an undisclosed amount. Founded in January 2010, Grabble provides retailers a point-of-service app for purchases.
The discount giant will make the company part of its recently established Walmart Labs.
The A-Team is ready to roll
Between now and March 2013, when the first Target stores open in Canada, there is a whole lot of heavy lifting to be done at the retailer’s new headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario.
Target has identified Tony Fisher as president of Target Canada, and according to Skip Stoelzing, a former Target merchant and head of the Northstar Partnering Group’s Minneapolis office, the company’s Canadian headquarters will eventually be staffed by 500 employees. An estimated 90% of those employees will be hired from within Canada across such functions as asset protection, healthcare, human resources, legal, marketing, merchandising, real estate, design and property management and supplier chain and distribution support.
Speaking last week in Minneapolis at “Canada 101: Understanding Target’s Next Market,” Stoelzing noted that Target has already filled several key leadership positions. Bryan Berg will serve as SVP stores and John Morioka will serve as SVP merchandising. Rick Maguire will serve as SVP merchandise planning and Todd Marshall is SVP operations and healthcare.
“If you know any of these folks, you know they are the A players at Target,” Stoelzing the audience of suppliers gathered for the event.
The former Target buyer also offered his perspective on what the merchandise organization led by Morioka is expected to look like. Stoelzing said he envisions three divisional merchandise managers reporting to Morioka with 18 senior buyers reporting to the DMMs. The DMM for apparel, accessories and home is Elisha Ballantyne, the DMM for health care is Tracey Koller, and Kristin Shane will serve as DMM for grocery, headlines and beauty, according to Stoelizing.
Although determining product assortments in Canada presents a new challenge for Target, Stoelzing said, “I am confident these folks will get it figured out.”
Buy one retailer, get one headache for free
High on the list of things that can go wrong with Target’s entry into Canada is Quebec. The large province accounts for about 23% of the nation’s nearly 35 million residents, and because French is the official language, it means Target decision to acquire Zeller’s leases means it is essentially entering two international markets simultaneously.
According to Chris Whitaker, partner with the Toronto-based Explorer Shopper Solutions research consultancy, it’s not just the French language that makes Quebecers unique. They have more in common with European culture than North America and enjoy being culturally unique which means, “Retailers can’t take a U.S. strategy and drop it in Quebec or even a Canadian strategy and expect it to work,” Whitaker said.
For example, while shopper behavior in other parts of Canada have made Loblaw’s President’s Choice the nation’s leading brand, Quebecers tend to be more brand loyal and they are also more impulsive in their behavior than other Canadians. The province also tends to be governed in a more socialist fashion than elsewhere. As an example, the income tax rate for a single person earning $40,000 annually is 26.6%, the highest in the country, and day care only costs $7 a day compared with Alberta where the tax rate is 21.1% and day care costs $1,400 a month.
Quebecers are fiercely independent and determined to stay that way, which doesn’t make it easy for retailers to serve the market. The province is driven to remaining culturally unique and aggressively protects its cultural roots through strong government intervention, legislation and regulations, according to Whitaker.