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Wanted: exec with international experience


Alaska and Hawaii are sort of like foreign countries when it comes to operating retail stores, according to Target chairman, CEO and president Gregg Steinhafel. The company opened its first stores in both states last year and the exercise has provided “considerable insight into some of the distribution and other operational challenges that we may face when opening stores outside of the United States,” Steinhafel said.

Target’s plans to do just that, most likely in Canada, Mexico or Central America, but not for at least three to five years or possibly longer, depending on how long it takes to fully capitalize on domestic growth opportunities.

It would be best not to wait that long, as challenges associated with operating stores in Alaska and Hawaii are nothing compared with what Target will face in Canada and Mexico. At least Alaska and Hawaii use the same currency and are part of the United States, whereas Canada and Mexico, despite being contiguous to the United States, carry there own unique merchandising, marketing, operational, legal and financial systems that can, and have, taken other top retailers many years to figure out. The surest evidence that Target is serious about international growth will come when the company decides to hire an executive with experience entering and operating in international markets. The company will need management talent that can help it determine whether growth objectives are best served via an acquisition or organically and can help the company learn from the mistakes of others.

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