Giant Tiger Continues With Gigantic Expansion Plans

Ottawa-based discount retailer Giant Tiger is seeing considerable success with its Canadian operations, with plans to continue opening new stores. The company recently launched three new women's fashion lines, and has also spearheaded store renovations and other strategies to enhance shopping environments. 

The retailer was founded in 1961 in Ottawa's Byward Market area, and has since grown to operate 218 Canadian stores and employs over 7,000 'team members'. Stores carry categories such as family fashions, footwear, groceries, confectionary, pet food, cleaning supplies, housewares, stationery, toys, and health/beauty products. The company's strategy involves striving to lower prices through continued improvements to efficiency as well as maximizing buying power through economies of scale, as well as increasing market share in existing markets by modifying stores and assortment, based on local needs. The company continues to seek out new markets to further increase revenues via well-researched and planned expansion that involves opening new store locations.

Giant Tiger's vice president of Marketing, Karen Sterling, says that the retailer will continue with plans to open between 10 and 15 Canadian stores annually, doing so primarily with a franchise model that sees partnerships with successful retail merchants who can aspire to become franchisees in their communities. One of the many advantages to franchising is gaining access to local market expertise, not to mention the ability to customize product assortment tailored to local tastes. Franchisees are already a part of the community, allowing Giant Tiger to operate as a "living, breathing part of the community" which includes investing in the local community both with fundraising and sponsorships, she explained. 

Ms. Sterling explained how Giant Tiger has also been rolling out an updated store concept to enhance the shopping experience, as well as provide convenience for time-starved consumers. She described the core client as being a 25 to 50 year old female, partnered and possibly with children. As the 'CFO' of the household, seeking out both value as well as time savings, the target shopper seeks out a 'one-stop' shopping experience with an optimal value proposition. Stretching the family budget is met through value-priced fashions and other categories, while time savings can be met through stores carrying a variety of product categories under one roof, be it fashions, bedding, bath and food items. Stores are also laid out efficiently and are "not too large" so as to not overwhelm shoppers. Giant Tiger's primary store format (as opposed to its GTExpress format) measures in the 13,000 to 18,000 square foot range, though some locations can be smaller or larger, depending on markets and real estate.   

E-Commerce is also an extension of the store, she said, with Giant Tiger's website carrying over 6,000 products that can also be picked up in-store. 

Since 2012, Giant Tiger has been investing heavily in its in-store experience, she explained. Redesigned stores feature wider aisles, convenient shop-in-shop departments, and an overall experience meant for time efficiency. This spring, Giant Tiger expanded operations by launching three value-priced women's fashion lines -- Lily Morgan™, myStyle™ and the updated ACX Active™ -- which are already seeing tremendous success. The company also launched its first TV/print/online ad campaign as part of the initiative, which includes a body-positive image for its female shoppers (see video below). 

Giant Tiger will continue to seek out opportunities for new stores in Canada, seeking out real estate as well as local partners. It's undetermined how many stores Giant Tiger could eventually operate in Canada, as decisions are made based on opportunity, which includes cost effective real estate. A second location in Barrie, Ontario will open, for example, while it's somewhat unlikely that the retailer would open a store in the heart of downtown Toronto. A number of larger-format retailers have been closing stores in Canada, providing increased real estate opportunities for companies such as Giant Tiger to expand into existing real estate. 

*All images courtesy of Giant Tiger.

Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: July 13, 2016