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A touch of Target is coming back to Canada

Examples of Cat & Jack children's clothes are seen in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hudson's Bay Company Examples of Cat & Jack children's clothes are seen in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hudson's Bay Company
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A touch of Target is coming back to Canada.

Hudson's Bay announced Friday that it will begin stocking the U.S. retailer's children's apparel brand Cat & Jack in its department stores and online on March 14.

Cat & Jack sells clothing for kids under the age of 12 at prices as low as $7 and as high as $35. Its range of apparel includes tank tops, T-shirts, shorts, pants and dresses.

Its appearance in Hudson's Bay stores marks the first time the brand has been sold outside Target's stores and website.

Hudson's Bay did not make anyone available for an interview on the announcement, but the partnership appears to be positioned as a way to deliver cost savings to shoppers who have grown frustrated with inflation making everyday purchases more expensive.

"Now more than ever parents are looking for stylish and durable clothing that is also affordable for their families," Liz Rodbell, president and chief executive of Hudson's Bay, in a press release.

"We're listening to customers and are very focused on delivering an assortment that is relevant and reflects what Canadian families are looking for."

Cat & Jack's appearance in Hudson's Bay stores comes almost a decade after Target announced in January 2015 that it would close its 133 Canadian stores and lay off about 17,600 staff, just under two years after it arrived in the country.

"Simply put, we were losing money every day," Target's chief executive Brian Cornell said, when the exit announcement was made.

On Friday, the company was much more enthusiastic about the market. Target is "pleased" to work with Hudson's Bay as it continues to expand "this established area of our business," said Bill Foudy, president of owned brand sourcing and development, in the release.

Cat & Jack has been steadily growing since it was launched in 2016.

It is now a US$3-billion brand that sells more than 300 million items a year, equating to about eight pieces of merchandise per child in the U.S. under 12, Jill Sando said on a Tuesday earnings call.

"This is part of a discretionary category, but Cat & Jack is a brand that drives repeat business for Target because of great prices and great quality, which parents love and great design that kids love," said Sando, Target's executive vice-president and chief merchandising officer of apparel and accessories.

"It drives trips and sales across the store during key moments like back-to-school and throughout the year as kids grow into new sizes."

Despite the company's optimism, retail analysts have warned the apparel sector is facing "extremely volatile" conditions this year as people forgo purchasing products they don't see as essential to cope with high prices.

Consulting firm McKinsey and Co. expects year-over-year retail sales growth between two and four per cent in 2024, well below the double-digit growth some markets saw in 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2024.

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