Canadian Retailers Need to Go Global

There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star last week that discussed a recent University of Toronto study about the management of Canadian retailers.

While the findings are that retail management in Canada is on-par with talent in the US, Canadian retailers that have international experience are much better managed.

This is not a surprise for me at all. I have long stated that the Canadian retail market is far too isolated in the world; with few of our big retailers competing outside our borders and a relatively low level of international competition at home.

We need to learn beyond our borders.

Of our ten biggest retailers, the most international is Couche Tard who is in the midst of spreading its wings even further in the US Market with its hostile take over of Casey’s General Stores.

Even with a huge US operation and some franchising in Asia – Couche Tard in my mind is not a “real” international retailer. The US is too similar to the Canadian market.

Sales Is Not Simple works with clients all over the world and from our point of view, global experience takes managers in both Retail and CPG to a whole new level. Without the perspective of what is happening in markets outside of comfort of the US / Canada zone – Canadian retailers are missing opportunities to build stronger businesses from marketing, merchandising, category management, store design, e-commerce, supply chain and sustainability to name a just a few areas of opportunity.

Expanding abroad is an effective but expensive way to learn.

We are currently working with a client to lead a market intelligence mission to France and the UK later this year. These types of trips are not “boondoggles” to see the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. The insights learned in foreign markets can be immediately put to use to grow sales, market share and profits.

It really is time we stopped measuring success only within the Canadian context. Our yardstick should be the world’s best.


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