VAUGHAN BANKRUPTCY TRUSTEE WARNS OF DANGERS IN TAKING FREE TAX ADVICE

Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, bankruptcy, trustee, tax season scams, income tax, income tax debt, Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, tax advice, tax professional, tax, starting over starting now, frequently asked bankruptcy questionsAs a Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, we always warn our clients that this time of year can be dangerous. In our last blog we warned you about tax season scams. This week your Vaughan bankruptcy trustee is warning you about the dangers of taking free tax advice. There are many places to get free tax advice, and quite frankly all of them are dubious. Unless the person giving the advice is a trained and licensed financial services professional, the only thing you should do with free tax advice is ignore it, or you could find yourself in a worse financial and legal position than you started in.

It seems that everyone is looking ways to avoid paying income tax. As we discussed in a previous blog The Tax Lawyer; Even A High Profile Tax Fighting Lawyer Has To Pay His Income Tax, there is no miracle cure or quick fix when you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Yet that doesn’t stop people from posting all sorts of questions on the Internet looking for free advice. The problem is when you post questions in online forums and chat rooms you have no idea who is answering your question and giving you advice. As a Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, many times we are shocked to see the kind of advice is being posted on the Internet also about frequently asked bankruptcy questions.

Although we do not provide income tax advice, as a Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, we do set filters to obtain postings having to do with income tax debt; many questions and answers regarding income tax are posted.  The Internet allows for anonymity and the person who has identified himself/herself as a tax professional may in reality be a teenager having some fun. Or worse, perhaps it is a scammer or malware malcontent collecting email addresses!  Although the Internet can be a valuable resource, online forums and chat rooms are not the places to seek tax advice. The same applies to well meaning friends, family and colleagues unless they are trained financial services professionals.

Seek financial advice from a trained, experienced, licensed professional ONLY! If you’re experiencing financial difficulties for any reason including monies owed to the CRA contact your Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, Inc. today. Starting Over, Starting Now you can put your financial difficulties behind you.

 

VAUGHAN DEBT COUNSELLING ADVISES BEWARE OF TAX SEASON SCAMS

Vaughan debt counselling, Vaughan, debt, debt counselling, trustee, receiver, bankruptcy, Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, tax scams, email scams, phone scams, starting over starting nowWhen we perform Vaughan debt counselling, we always advise that there is no miracle cure or quick fix when you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  For a real life example, see our discussion in an earlier blog The Tax Lawyer; Even A High Profile Tax Fighting Lawyer Has To Pay His Income Tax.  Unfortunately there is more to worry about than the CRA during tax season. There are scam artists out there just waiting to take your money. Through our Vaughan debt counselling, Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc., we are able to provide some valuable information and advice to help protect you from the villainous forces lurking at the other end of a phone call or email transmission.

In fact, it was through our Vaughan debt counselling that we learned of these scams.  Scammers are sending emails and making phone calls, claiming to be the CRA. These communications, asking for information including credit card data, bank account numbers and passwords and passport numbers are designed to steal your identity and/or your money. Email scams frequently contain embedded malicious software that can harm your computer and put your personal information at risk. DO NOT click on any of the links in the emails. Typically an email or telephone scam involves one of these two scenarios.

  1. You have a refund pending from CRA and the communications will go on to instruct the receiver to provide personal information in order to receive the benefit.
  2. You or your company, as a result of an audit, owe “back taxes”. You are advised you have to “pay up” ASAP to avoid a fine or the person is told there is an outstanding arrest warrant which can be avoided if the tax payment is made promptly. In many cases individuals are being told they will be deported if the taxes are not paid right away.

These types of communication are not from the CRA, should be ignored and reported to the RCMP or Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or http://www.antifraudcentre.ca.

The CRA:

  • NEVER requests information from a taxpayer about a passport, health card or driver’s license.
  • NEVER divulges taxpayer information to another person unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer.
  • NEVER leaves any personal information on an answering machine or asks taxpayers to leave a message with their personal information on an answering machine.

If you find yourself in financial difficulties as a result of a scam or for any other reason contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. We serve the GTA through our Vaughan debt counselling and our other services that are bankruptcy alternatives. We can help get you back on the road to solid financial footing Starting Over, Starting Now. Watch for our next blog when we’ll be discussing the dangers of taking free tax advice.

HOUSEHOLD DEBT; CANADIAN LEVELS SOUND ALARM BELLS

household debt, debt, mortgages, consumer credit, Equifax Canada, credit card debt, living paycheque to paycheque, starting over starting nowHousehold debt has hit record levels according to Statistics Canada. The total amount of credit market debt which includes mortgages, non-mortgage loans and consumer credit held by Canadian households hit a record high in the third quarter of 2014, climbing to 162.6% of disposable income. That means Canadians owed about $1.63 for every dollar of disposable income.

Equifax Canada reports that household debt levels are climbing fast, to a record $1.422-trillion in the fourth quarter of 2014. Installment loans, primarily car loans, were the fastest growing segment of debt, up 11% year over year. Credit card debt rose 5.9% from a year ago.

These household debt figures have attracted international attention. A report, recently published by McKinsey & Company, singled out Canada and six other countries (The Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand) with “potential vulnerabilities in household debt.” One of the most alarming statements in this report is that Canadian household debt levels are higher than those that existed in the U.S. at the peak of the credit bubble. However the data suggests a “potential risk, but not an imminent crisis which is good news indeed. The risks that were identified in the report were:

  • Mortgages are the main form of household debt.
  • If the economy slows down and unemployment rises, many mortgages could become unaffordable.
  • If interest rates rise, it could create a much larger burden on households repaying debt.

Many Canadians may not realize it, but  because of their household debt, they are one paycheque away from what could be a financial crisis. Do you owe more than your disposable income? Are you living from paycheque to paycheque? Don’t wait for financial disaster to strike. The earlier you seek financial help the more options will be open to you. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. today. We’ll review your individual issues and come up with a sound plan so that Starting Over, Starting Now you can enjoy financial peace of mind.

THE TAX LAWYER; EVEN A HIGH PROFILE TAX FIGHTING LAWYER HAS TO PAY HIS INCOME TAX

:  the tax lawyer, debt, Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, Starting over starting now, DioGuardi, Phillipe DioGuardi, Paul DioGuardi, DioGuardiNothing is certain except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin
The tax lawyer learned another certainty that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will get what’s coming to them even if your name is Philippe DioGuardi and you have a radio advertising campaign with slogans that include:

  • “I don’t cheat, I change the game.”
  • “Tax problems end here.”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Philippe DioGuardi, he is the tax lawyer who has been bombarding the radio airwaves with spots that represent him as a one man crusader against the unfair tactics of the CRA. A recent Toronto Star investigation revealed some shocking information regarding the tax lawyer Philippe DioGuardi’s own tax problems with the CRA. Some of these startling revelations include:

  • He over-drew $2 million from the law firm he co-owns with his father Paul.
  • Ontario’s legal regulator is investigating nine complaints against him.
  • The tax lawyer only recently settled his own $147,000 debt to the CRA.
  • His estranged wife Elena wants spousal support of $25,000 a month.

By 2012 Philippe’s overspending was out of control. His father Paul was left with no alternative but to come out of retirement and take control of the law firm. In order to prevent Philippe from continuing to over-draw from the firm’s bank account, Paul changed the signing authorities and put the tax lawyer on a strict budget.

Philippe DioGuardi’s story sounds like a bad reality television program. The tax lawyer blames many of his financial problems to his estranged wife’s (who he’s been describing as a Russian mail-order bride) spending habits and his financial commitments to his 3 children from a previous marriage. All of the dirty laundry is being aired in public and financial documents submitted by the tax lawyer in the divorce action show that:

  • Between the years 2009 and 2012, the firm had annual revenues of about $6 million, and spent about $2 million a year on advertising and marketing.
  • As of 2012, Philippe DioGuardi owed the CRA more than $140,000, including $58,000 in unpaid taxes from 2011.
  • By 2013, the CRA was trying to get a response from DioGuardi, with no luck.
  • The arrears were paid off in full over time, through an arrangement the tax lawyer negotiated with the CRA.

The reality is that even a high profile tax fighting lawyer has to pay his income tax. There is no miracle cure or quick fix when you owe money to the CRA. If you’re having serious financial difficulties and owe money to the CRA, contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. We don’t have a $2 million advertising campaign. Our philosophy is that corporate or personal financial problems can be solved given immediate action and the right plan so that Starting Over, Starting Now you can live a debt free life.

TARGET CANADA LIQUIDATION BEGINS FEBRUARY 5; ATTENTION TARGET CANADA SHOPPERS

Target Canada liquidation, Target Canada, Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, CCAA, 17,600 employees, debt, Target Corporation, liquidation plan, creditor protection, Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc., Starting Over Starting Now, restructuring of insolvent corporations, restructuringThe Target Canada liquidation plan for the sale of its inventory, fixtures, store leases and other real estate was approved by Order of The Honourable Regional Senior Justice Morawetz on February 4, 2015.  In this blog, we will focus only on the Target Canada liquidation of the inventory, furniture and fixtures located at its retail stores, distribution centres and corporate head office.  Hopefully, we will succeed in explaining it in plain English!

Target Canada sought and obtained creditor protection on January 15, 2015 under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-36) (“CCAA”), a Canadian federal statute.  As we indicated in our earlier blog, TARGET CANADA CLOSING: $5.4 BILLION AND COUNTING, the CCAA, which is normally used for the restructuring of insolvent corporations with debts over $5 million, in order to preserve all or a portion of the business and jobs.  This time, rather than being used for a restructuring and turnaround, it is being used to provide for an orderly liquidation.

The closing of the Target Canada stores will put 17,600 people out of work over the next five months.  The Initial Court Order provided for an Initial Stay Period was to expire on February 13, 2015.  In order to carry out the Target Canada liquidation plan, part of the relief it sought and obtained was an extension of the Stay Period to May 15, 2015.

The two questions that we have been asked the most are:  1. what is the Target Canada liquidation plan for its inventory and chattels and how long will it take; and 2. will the suppliers receive everything they are owed from the liquidation?

The first question is easier to answer than the second.  First, below in point form is a summary of the Target Canada liquidation plan for its inventory and chattels which is now approved by the Court:

  1. An exclusive agent was approved to conduct the Target Canada liquidation of the inventory, furniture and fixtures located at the retail stores, distribution centres and corporate head office, to liquidate in its entirety.
  1. The exclusive agent is a contractual joint venture comprised of Merchant Retail Solutions ULC (“ULC”), Gordon Brothers Canada ULC and GA Retail Canada. ULC will collectively act as the exclusive agent.
  1. The current time estimate is that the Target Canada liquidation will end no later than May 15, 2015 for the stores, April 30, 2015 for the distribution centres and March 31, 2015 for the corporate office. Circumstances may alter this schedule, but this is the current plan.
  1. All sales will be “final sales” and “as is” and all advertisements and sales receipts will reflect same.
  1. The exclusive agent has guaranteed that Target Canada will receive a net minimum amount of 74% of the “Cost Value” of the Merchandise (the “Guaranteed Amount”), computed in accordance with the Agency Agreement, and subject to adjustment in accordance with the Agency Agreement, if: (i) the aggregate Cost Value of the Merchandise is less than $445 million or greater than $475 million; and/or (ii) the Cost Value of the Merchandise as a percentage of the Retail Price of the Merchandise exceeds 63%. (This part was not plain English!!).
  1. What this means is that if there is no adjustment to the Guaranteed Amount calculation based on the Agreement, Target Canada is guaranteed to receive a minimum estimated amount of $340 million from the liquidation of the inventory, furniture and fixtures (based on an average Cost Value of $460 million).

Now for the second question.  Target Canada owes money to nearly 1,800 businesses around the world, from India to Shanghai and Brampton to Winnipeg.  It is impossible to estimate at this time what suppliers may expect to receive from the Target Canada liquidation, for the following reasons:

  1. There is no current estimate for what the net proceeds may be from the sale of the Target Canada store leases and real estate.
  1. There will be further deductions from the Target Canada liquidation including the:
  • trust claims of any party, statutory or otherwise, against the assets, properties and undertaking of Target Canada;
  • operating costs and liquidation specific costs for which Target Canada will have used its own cash flow rather than having borrowed those funds;
  • exclusive agent’s Charge and Security Interest (on the Limited Inventory Charged Property only);
  • Administration Charge (to the maximum amount of $6.75 million);
  • KERP Charge (to the maximum amount of $6.5 million);
  • Directors’ Charge (to the maximum amount of $64 million);
  • Financial Advisor Subordinated Charge (to the maximum amount of $3 million); and
  • DIP Lender’s Charge.
  1. The final amount of claims to ultimately be filed and admitted in the Target Canada liquidation are unknown. All we know is that in its initial motion material, Target Canada stated that it owed a total of $5.1 billion, of which $3.1 billion was owed to an entity related to Target Corporation in the United States.  Target Corporation has stated that it will subordinate its $3.1 billion claim to those of the unsecured creditors.
  1. What claims may come before the claims of unpaid suppliers? The unpaid suppliers are ordinary unsecured creditors.  The scheme of distribution, which has not been developed yet by Target Canada or submitted to the Court for approval, will have to reflect that the claims of trust claimants, other secured creditors and preferred creditors must be paid first before the claims of the ordinary unsecured creditors.

On paper, it seems that the Target Canada liquidation will provide sufficient proceeds to pay off all creditors in full, with assets and liabilities both in the $5-billion range. But the true value of the recorded assets will be less than stated.  So for now, this second question cannot be answered.

We will continue to watch and blog about the Target Canada liquidation.  If your business is showing signs of financial stress, contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. before your business problems lead to your business closing. The earlier you begin to deal with debt, the more options you’ll have. We approach every file with the attitude that financial problems can be solved given immediate action and the right plan. Starting Over, Starting Now you can live a debt free life.

FINANCIAL INFIDELITY IN MARRIAGE; HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED IT?

financial infidelity in marriage, financial infidelity, financial plan, trustee, bankruptcy, financial crisis, debt, starting over starting nowFinancial infidelity in marriage is the biggest danger to your marriage.   Contrary to popular belief, a spouse with a roving eye is not the biggest danger; it is financial infidelity. You may be surprised to learn that financial infidelity in marriage is more common than you think. According to a 2014 survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education:

  • 33% of people with combined finances have lied to their partner about money.
  • 30% concealed a purchase, bank account, statement, bill or cash from the other.
  • 10% lied about their finances, earnings and debt.
  • 35% have been financially deceived by a partner.

How much damage does financial infidelity in marriage cause? According to the same 2014 survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education:

  • 76% of those surveyed said financial deception has adversely affected their relationships.
  • 47% admitted it caused an argument.
  • 33% reported that it had resulted in less trust in the relationship.
  • 10% said that the deception ultimately resulted in divorce.
  • 8% blamed it for a separation.

The top predictor of divorce is arguing about money, regardless of the couple’s income, debt or net worth, according to a Kansas State University study. If you have financial infidelity in marriage, the secrecy has to end and you must be open and honest. Full disclosure is the only way. You need to:

  • Have an open and honest conversation about money and shake all of the skeletons out of the closet.
  • Create a budget that you can both live with.
  • Set financial rules and goals.
  • Seek financial help

Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. We are professionals who serve companies and individuals throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) facing financial crisis or bankruptcy that need a plan for Starting Over, Starting Now. There is a way back from financial infidelity in marriage. It takes a solid financial plan and hard work. Call us today for a consultation and take the first step towards getting your marriage and finances back on track.

TARGET CANADA SEEKS COURT APPROVAL FOR LIQUIDATION

This blog about Target Canada is courtesy of the article written by Francine Kopun, Business reporter, The Toronto Star, published in the Saturday, January 31, 2015 edition.  Our Ira Smith is again quoted.

Target Canada, Francine Koupan, Ira Smith, starting over starting now, Target Corporation, liquidation, bankruptcy sale, bankruptcy, notices of termination

This image courtesy of The Toronto Star, January 31, 2015

Target Corporation announced Jan. 15 that it was pulling out of Canada, less than two years after opening its first stores. Instead of turning a profit within a year as expected, the company has lost $7-billion.

Liquidation sales at Target Canada stores could begin as early as Thursday, with its properties and leases going up for sale at the same time, according to new court documents.

Target Corporation announced Jan. 15 that it was pulling out of Canada, less than two years after opening its first stores. Instead of turning a profit within a year as expected, the company has lost $7-billion.

It was the Minneapolis-based discount retailer’s first international expansion attempt. Canadian stores were run through a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary called Target Canada Co.

Target Canada is to present a motion to the court on Wednesday asking for approval to appoint a joint venture of liquidation companies to sell off the contents of its 133 stores across Canada.

If the motion is approved by the court, the sale could begin the next day.

“The Target Canada Entities believe that it is crucial to begin a sales process immediately in order to implement the orderly wind down of the business and to maximize the amounts available to their respective stakeholders,” according to the document.

Between them, the liquidation companies have conducted nearly all major retail liquidations in Canada, including Eatons, Dylex, Bombay, Zellers and currently, Mexx.

According to the court documents, notices of termination have been sent to the vast majority of 17,600 employees – almost half of whom work at Target stores and offices in Ontario. The head office in Mississauga is being operated with a reduced team focused on winding down the business in an orderly fashion.

Target Corporation has also agreed to increase the employment trust to $90-million from $70-million (Canadian), to ensure the Canadian employees receive their full severance payout.

The liquidation is to be completed no later than May 15, but sales at some stores are expected to be finished as early as the end of March, according to the documents.

The company has stipulated that no signs shall advertise the sale as a “going-out-of-business sale,” or “bankruptcy sale,” and all fixtures, furnishings and equipment must go out the back doors of the buildings, after shopping hours.

Target Canada is putting all its leases and properties up for sale at the same time, publishing national ads as soon as practicable, to solicit bids as early as March 5.

“It’s not an ‘en bloc’ sale. It will, I am sure, turn out to be multiple sales. I doubt very much that one party will want to take all the real estate, but it’s one process they’re seeking approval for,” said Ira Smith, of Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc.

In addition to numerous store leases, office space leases and distribution centre facility leases, Target Canada owns three distribution centres: in Milton, Calgary and Cornwall.

The stores range in size from 88,700 square feet in Corner Brook, Nfld., to 157,500 square feet at the recently opened Toronto Stockyards location.

Don’t wait until your business loses so much money that the only option is liquidation through a receivership or bankruptcy; you need professional help long before then in the form of a trustee. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. as soon as possible after the first sign that your business may be in trouble. If your company is in serious debt, from an ill-conceived start-up or otherwise, there are many options including a review & monitoring and then a restructuring & turnaround in order to preserve the business and jobs.

We approach every file with the attitude that financial problems can be solved given immediate action and the right plan for you. Business problems are the enemy that can be conquered and Starting Over, Starting Now we can get your viable business restructured and nursed back to financial health.

 

 

DEBT; HOW ARE YOU MANAGING IT?

debt, holiday debt, debt repayment, financial plan, mortgages, starting over starting now, managing debtIn our blog, Holiday Debt; Are You Drowning In It?, we discussed how easy it is to get into debt that is way beyond your means to repay it. And, it seems that managing debt and debt repayment is on everyone’s minds these days. CIBC’s yearly poll on consumer financial priorities has revealed that debt repayment is becoming increasingly important to Canadians who are nearing retirement age; with 31% of those aged 45-54 saying debt repayment is their top priority. This is certainly not a surprise as a Manulife survey reports:

  • 50% of respondents expect to be in debt when they retire.
  • 10% planned to borrow against their current homes.
  • 8% were looking to downsize and use money from the sale of their home as income.

“Using home equity as a “fallback plan” suggests some Canadians are struggling to balance retirement with paying down debt”, says Manulife Bank CEO Rick Lunny. “If people think they’re going to take out second mortgages and larger mortgages when they retire, that’s a pretty concerning view and evidence of no financial plan whatsoever,” Lunny said.

Many Canadians have no financial plan what-so-ever and as well are not really financially literate. However, some mortgage brokers are recognizing the importance of client education. “There is no doubt that client education should be the cornerstone of any mortgage broker’s marketing plan,” Jackson Middleton of Kilted Media wrote on MortgageBrokerNews.ca.

If you’re like many Canadians who don’t have a plan to deal with debt repayment, you need professional advice. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. before your debt load becomes critical. The earlier you begin to deal with debt, the more options you’ll have. We approach every file with the attitude that financial problems can be solved given immediate action and the right plan. Starting Over, Starting Now you can live a debt free life.

 

Target Canada owes more than $5-billion to creditors

Target Canada, Canada Revenue Agency, creditor protection, out of work, Canada, creditor protection, Ira Smith, Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc., Starting Over Starting Now, debt, trustee

Image courtesy of The Toronto Star

This blog about Target Canada is courtesy of the article written by Francine Kopun, Business reporter, The Toronto Star, published on Thursday January 22, 2015.  Our Ira Smith is quoted extensively.

From India to Milton, Target Canada owes money.

Target Canada owes money to nearly 1,800 businesses around the world, from India to Shanghai and Brampton to Winnipeg.

The list runs 44 typed pages. It includes 3greenmoms, makers of eco-friendly sandwich bags in Potomac, MD ($3,751); 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in Toronto ($3.7-million) and the Banhat Rattan Bamboo Co-operative in Ho Chi Minh City ($1,596).

Target Canada owes $1,926 to the Retail Council of Canada and $433,248 to Roots Canada Ltd. Roots was behind the popular Beaver Canoe line of goods tailor-made for Target Canada.

Target Canada owes Revenue Quebec $6.529-million. It owes more than $12-million to the Canada Revenue Agency.

“Did I see this coming? No,” said Jennifer Carlson, founder, Baby Gourmet Foods Inc., an Edmonton-based company owed $62,701.

Carlson said her first thought, when she heard the news of Target Canada shutting down, was for the employees who would be losing their jobs, and their families.

“Target was a great partner for us and at this point, it’s going to be (about) growing with our other retail partners,” said Carlson.

Target Canada announced last week it was seeking creditor protection as it winds down operations, closing all 133 stores and putting 17,600 people out of work over the next five months.

As of Thursday, all Starbucks operating within Target Canada stores will be closed, a Target spokesman confirmed.

“Generally speaking, the team members will be re-assigned to other areas of the store,” said Target Canada’s Eric Hausman.

Unable to keep shelves stocked and customers interested in their retail offering, Target executives made the decision to leave Canada rather than spend another five years chasing profits.

It has lost about $7-billion on its Canadian operations so far.

On paper, it seems that Target Canada is in a position to pay off all creditors in full, with assets and liabilities both in the $5-billion range. But the true value of the recorded assets is always less than stated, said Ira Smith of Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc.

“Everything gets recorded at original cost — what they paid for the assets. When they do the inventory sale, they will not recoup the original cost. The racking and fixtures, once they shut down, is by the pound,” said Smith.

Some assets listed by Target Canada include credit owing from vendors, but as Smith points out, once Target Canada stops paying the vendors, the vendors won’t be making good on those credits.

What Target Canada will be able to realize from the sales of leases and properties it owns will also likely be less than what they originally paid.

“Who is going to step in and pay what Target Canada did? No one,” said Smith.

Some – not all – the properties leased to Target Canada, were guaranteed by the parent corporation in Minneapolis.

Target Canada likely has its own internal estimate, but that is not something it is going to share, said Smith.

Target Canada has 30 days from the date of filing for creditor protection to present a plan that will satisfy creditors. It may also seek a 30-day extension from the courts, said Smith.

The parent company is owed at least $3.1-billion, but Smith, who has read the filings, said the amount is unsecured.

Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. before your business problems lead to your business closing. The earlier you begin to deal with debt, the more options you’ll have. We approach every file with the attitude that financial problems can be solved given immediate action and the right plan. Starting Over, Starting Now you can live a debt free life.

TARGET CANADA CLOSING: $5.4 BILLION AND COUNTING

Target Canada closing, Target Canada, Target Canada, Target Corporation, Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, CCAA, restructuring of insolvent corporations, restructuring and turnaround, business failure, orderly liquidation, Zellers, starting over starting now, financial viability, financial hardship, receivership or bankruptcyTarget Canada closing was announced on January 15, 2015, when Target Canada Co. and related entities commenced court-supervised restructuring proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (“CCAA”).  The CCAA, which is a Federal statute normally used for the restructuring of insolvent corporations with debts over $5 million, in order to preserve all or a portion of the business and jobs.  This time, rather than being used for a restructuring and turnaround, it is being used to provide for an orderly liquidation.

What went wrong?  Target Canada is an indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary of the United States-based retailer Target Corporation.  Target Corporation was founded in 1902 as Dayton Hudson Corporation, and is one of the largest retailers in the United States of America.  You would think they had the experience to avoid such a disaster.  It seems that everything went wrong and right now Target Canada estimates that this business failure will result in a loss of $5.4 BILLION!

The mistakes made by Target Canada and its US based parent seem to be very basic.  The mistakes made leading to the Target Canada closing can be summarized in the following 9 point list:

1. Walk before you run – Target Corporation’s  leadership  saw expansion into Canada as an opportunity to extend the Target shopping experience to a broader group of people and thereby expand its revenues and profits. They also believed that there were significant   opportunities in the Canadian market that made their strategies well positioned to succeed.

However, rather than starting off with a few stores in select Canadian markets, they began in 2011 by purchasing the net amount of 135 store leases from Zellers Inc. for a net purchase price of $1.6 billion.  Perhaps a more modest start would not have put so much financial pressure on Target Canada from the very beginning.

This is reason number one leading to Target Canada closing.

2. Failure to implement your plan in a reasonable period of time – Although Target Canada entered Canada in 2011 through the purchase of the leases, they first undertook necessary renovations and leasehold   improvements before Target Canada opened at many of the former Zellers locations under the Target banner.  The first stores did not open until March 2013 – more than 2 years after the decision was made to acquire the Canadian locations.

This obviously gave Target Canada’s competitors a long lead time to plan for the Target invasion.  The major competitors include Wal-Mart, The Bay, Sears, and also major  supermarket  chains  like Loblaws,  electronic  retailers  like Best  Buy and Future  Shop, and home improvement  stores  like  Canadian  Tire,  Home Depot,  Rona and Lowes.

This is reason number two leading to Target Canada closing.

3. Miscalculation of Demand for your Product – The opening of that many stores resulted in market densification – particularly in large cities served by more than one Target store – and reduced the impact of many of the new store openings. There were too many stores for the marketplace.

This is reason number three leading to Target Canada closing.

4. Poor Supply-Chain Management – Target Canada encountered significant supply chain issues. Stores were often: (i) out-of-stock for important merchandise, resulting in consumer dissatisfaction; and  (ii)   over-stocked   on   other   merchandise,   necessitating discounts to manage the inventory and impairing operating margins. These supply chain issues created a poor first impression. Therefore, many potential customers appear to have returned to or maintained the shopping practices they had before Target’s entry into Canada where such problems didn’t exist.

This is reason number four leading to Target Canada closing.

5. Tinkering with a proven model – Canadian consumers expected Target Canada to follow Target’s U.S. prices, which is a significant source of loyalty to the Target brand. Rather than match or reflect the U.S. prices in Canada, its pricing model was designed to compete with other similar Canadian retailers and included generally higher prices than Target’s U.S. stores. This appears to have limited Target Canada’s ability to distinguish itself in the competitive Canadian retail marketplace. It appears to me that Target Canada did not attempt to distinguish itself on a superior customer experience and did not attempt to distinguish itself in its pricing model.

 Many of the Target Canada suppliers, either directly or through related entities, supplied merchandise to both the Canadian stores and Target Corporation’s U.S. stores, and many of those cross-over vendors have operations in Canada.  Couldn’t Target have used its buying clout to not have Target Canada’s pricing model to be the same as its Canadian competitors?

This is reason number five leading to Target Canada closing.

6. No online presence – Need I say any more? Any home-based business owner knows you need to have an online presence today.

Although Target   US has an established and successful online retail business, Target Canada elected to focus on the build-out of the physical  stores  and  improving  store  operations,  and  did  not  prioritize  the establishment of an online retail business for Canadian customers. This turned out to be a significant competitive disadvantage as the retail market moves beyond traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. By the time Target Canada woke up, it was too late.

This is reason number six leading to Target Canada closing.

7. Too little too late – Beginning in Spring 2014,  Target Canada added internal resources and consulted at great length with a variety of strategic, operational and financial advisors in an attempt to improve Target Canada’s operations and identify strategies that could make the Canadian operations viable in the long term.  Target Canada could not identify an option that would result in TCC breaking-even in the next five years.  Were any of these financial viability studies conducted before the net spend of $1.6 billion on leases in 2011?  Would not those same studies have identified what senior executives should have done to have a successful Target Canada launch?

This is reason number seven leading to Target Canada closing.

8. Not understanding the marketplace – In 2011, Canada had a population of 34.4 million. In comparison, this was slightly smaller than the population of the State of California at the same time.  The   financial   returns for Canadian   stores   were   expected   to be   in line with historical   returns for U.S. store openings.  This typically   meant losses until the completion of the first full year of store operations,   and profits thereafter.  Target Canada never made any money.  For the 2013 and 2014 fiscal periods, Target Canada’s losses totalled $3.6 billion (before interest and taxes).

This is reason number eight leading to Target Canada closing.

9. Management – Based on the above, clearly Target management miscalculated the success of an expansion into Canada out of the US. No doubt other US retailers who may be considering an expansion into Canada, must look at this expansion failure before embarking on implement their own expansion into Canada.

This is reason number nine leading to Target Canada closing.

At the time of filing, Target Canada had 17,600 employees.  Because this is an orderly liquidation and not a restructuring and turnaround, those jobs will not be saved as a result of Target Canada closing.  No doubt these job losses will create financial hardship for many of these employees’ families.  To its credit, Target US has established a trust fund for payment of the Target Canada obligations to its employees.  This trust fund is in addition to the proceeds from the sale of the Target Canada assets.

The lessons to be learned from the Target Canada closing story is that every business, regardless of size, must not only have a properly vetted business plan before implementing any business strategy, but management must have carefully studied and tested it to ensure as best as possible that management understands the marketplace it wishes to operate in and that the implementation of the plan will be successful for the business.

Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. acts for both debtors and secured lenders, in the performance of financial and viability assessments for financially challenged businesses.  The earlier that we are consulted, the better the chances are that we can construct and assist management in implementing its plan to return to financial health without the need for receivership or bankruptcy proceedings.

Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. before your business problems lead to your business closing. The earlier you begin to deal with debt, the more options you’ll have. We approach every file with the attitude that financial problems can be solved given immediate action and the right plan. Starting Over, Starting Now you can live a debt free life.

Note:  The facts contained herein regarding Target Canada Co. (“TCC”) and Target Corporation, and the expansion of Target Corporation into Canada was derived from the Affidavit of Mark J. Wong, General Counsel and Secretary of TCC, sworn January 14, 2015 in support of TCC’s CCAA application.