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Canadian Tire goes stylishFriday, August 07, 2015 > 09:16:06
Target is long gone from the scene, but other retailers up the chic factor.
Walking through the line-up of products Canadian Tire Corp. will bring to market this holiday season, it’s hard not to think of the recently departed Target.
Perhaps it’s the Mission-style furniture, the entryway mirrors and consoles and benches, or the way the Christmas tree decorations work together, and with the dishware on the harvest-style table set for a family meal.
“Everyone wants to have the ‘wow’ when people walk into their homes,” said Greg Hicks, senior vice-president, merchandising for Canadian Tire.
While it’s fair to say that Canadian Tire began focusing on improving its home décor portfolio around the same time Target Corp. announced in 2011 that it was coming to Canada, it was also part of a natural evolution, said Hicks and Mike McGinnis, vice-president holiday & seasonal for Canadian Tire.
Whereas in the past, Canadian Tire took style and design cues from its manufacturing community, over the past five years it has increased its input into the design process and now has a private label called Canvas, tasked with bringing a touch of élan to home décor and seasonal items.
Canvas launched in Christmas 2014 and carried into the spring with patio furniture and accessories. The new home line debuts in October and will include more furniture. Glassware, cutlery and plates will also be added to the collection.
“We’re cool hunters, trend hunters,” said Tracy Platt, who holds the new title of design manager, Canadian Tire. “We know how to take these trends and turn them into products.”
A 38-year-old Edmonton native, now a Toronto mom of two boys, ages three and five, Platt feels she is smack in the demographic Canadian Tire wants to bring into its vast network of stores.
She and her staff travel the world for ideas, including trips to Frankfurt in January for the Christmas show and to Paris for the Maison & Objet conference held twice a year. They scour magazines and websites and the great outdoors for inspiration and colours to bring back.
This year’s holiday season colours were inspired by the tranquil teal of Lake Louise.
Platt studied fashion at Ryerson and she believes that while fashion can serve as an inspiration, home décor needs to have a longer shelf-life.
Part of the work she does involves bringing all those inspirations together in a way that Canadians can relate to.
“I like being part of a team that really knows Canada,” said Platt, adding that Canvas has been met with enthusiasm by shoppers.
“I take great pride in that, knowing that we have definitely struck a chord.”
Retail consultant Wendy Evans, of Evans & Company Consultants Inc., said profit margins in home décor are attractive.
“Canadian Tire for the last few years has been increasing the assortment that appeals to more of the female customer,” she said.
“They’ve been very traditional in the past. I think they have really strived to become more contemporary.”
Canadian Tire wasn’t the only retailer to up the design quotient in anticipation of Target’s arrival — Walmart Canada also began adding bold new colours and patterns to homewares, and Sears Canada began embracing style under former chief executive officer Calvin McDonald.
Target Canada stunned the retail community when it announced in January that it had filed for creditor protection, less than two years after launching here. It closed all 133 stores.