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Canada's retail scene to lose another iconic store

The further "Americanization" of Canada's retail scene continues with the sale of most of the Zellers' chain to U.S.-based Target Corp.

Zellers' parent company, Hudson Bay, has been U.S.-owned since 2008, when it was acquired by NRDC Equity Partners. Hudson Bay is Canada's oldest business, established in 1670 by King Charles II.

The iconic Zellers name is expected to disappear from Canada's retail scene, as has Woolco (taken over 17 years ago by Wal­mart) and the defunct Simpson's and Eaton's department stores.

The sale of 220 Zellers' stores to Target for $1.82 billion reflects U.S. business interest in Canada's robust economy and consumer spending.

Plans are to convert 100 to 150 of the stores and open them as Target outlets in 2013 and 2014, and then expand further in Target's first foray outside the United States, said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Zellers, founded in 1931 for "thrifty Canadians" by Walter P. Zeller, has been up against stiff competition from Walmart and Costco.

Hudson Bay, which will concentrate on its upscale Bay department stores, will keep 59 Zellers' outlets. Some will be sold to other retailers and the rest will stay open for now, the company said.

Police officer hit, killed by snowplow

A Toronto police officer was killed while trying to stop an erratically driven stolen snowplow.

Sgt. Ryan Russell, 35, a married father of a 2-year-old son, was stuck down early in the morning.

Officers tried to stop the pickup truck equipped with a snowplow after it crashed into buildings and vehicles in the downtown area.

Russell fired at the driver before being run down. The truck was finally stopped when officers surrounded it and shot the driver, wounding him.

Richard Kachkar, 44, described as a drifter from St. Catharines, Ontario, was charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder.

News in brief

• Finance Minister Jim Flaherty suggests that Canada's dollar is finally getting the recognition it deserves, as it is worth slightly more than the U.S. greenback. The country's good financial situation means the dollar should not return to "the days when it was significantly devalued vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar," he said. Speaking in Washington, Flaherty said his Conservative government will curb spending to balance the budget and avoid impairing the economic recovery.

• Relatives of four Mounties ambushed and killed on a farm near Mayerthorpe, Alberta, in 2005 are questioning at an ongoing inquiry the botched attempt to arrest the killer for drug and theft charges. James Roszko, whom the Mounties called a "notorious, volatile cop hater known to have weapons," shot the officers and then killed himself.

Facts and figures:

Canada's dollar continues higher, valued at $1.0110, while the U.S. currency returns 98.91 cents Canadian before bank exchange fees.

The key interest rate of the Bank of Canada is unchanged at 1 percent, while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.

Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,401 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 2,289 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 4, 9, 15, 27, 28 and 46; bonus 18. (Jan. 8) 5, 6, 11, 16, 24 and 40; bonus 10. Lotto Max: (Jan. 7) 2, 10, 13, 15, 23, 28 and 49; bonus 40.

Regional briefs:

• Sandra Finley of Saskatchewan faces the prospect of three months in jail and a fine of up to $500 for refusing to fill out a detailed census form in 2006. "Comprehensive files on citizens are a characteristic of fascist, militaristic states," Finley said before being convicted. She will be sentenced on Thursday. It didn't help her case that the Canadian government recently removed the penalties for not completing future census forms. The National Citizens Coalition said many Canadians feel the long-form census is an intrusion into their lives.

• The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council says radio stations cannot play the original version of the classic rock hit Money for Nothing by Dire Straits due to an offensive word. Even though it has been played since 1985, a recent complaint from Newfoundland about the use of the word "faggot" in the song resulted in the decision. The song can only be played now with the word edited out or not played at all, the council ruled.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

Canada's retail scene to lose another iconic store 01/15/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 15, 2011 7:36pm]
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