By Brecken Branstrator
After a failed expansion into Canada, Target Corp. said it is turning its focus back to its stores in the United States. The Target pictured here is in Martinsburg, Va.
Minneapolis--Target announced Thursday that it will discontinue the operations of the 133 stores it has opened in Canada since expanding into the market less than two years ago.

Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement that the company recently evaluated the Canadian division and was “unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021.”

He added that the company was hoping that the operations put into place up to now would lead to a stronger holiday season, but that they “did not see the required step-change in our holiday performance.”

As part of the process, Target has obtained an Initial Order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to begin a court-supervised wind-down of its Canadian businesses.

The company will turn its focus back to growth and momentum in the U.S. market, and will operate as a single segment to include all U.S. operations.

Target’s expansion into Canada began in March 2013, opening a total of 124 stores within the first year.

Target currently has 133 stores across Canada, employing approximately 17,600 people. The retailer said it stores will stay open during the liquidation process, which will be executed by Aaron Alt, who served as senior vice president and treasurer and now has been named CEO of Target Canada.

The company expects the cash costs of discontinuing its Canadian operations to be between $500 and $600 million, much of which will occur in Target’s 2015 fiscal year or later.

Despite the decision, the retailer said it still expects to increase its earnings in fiscal 2015 and cash flow in fiscal 2016.

In terms of the company’s recent performance in the U.S., based on the holiday sales through November and December, Target said that it expects to report a 3 percent increase in comps in the fourth quarter, driven by increased traffic and strong digital sales.

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