Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City hall supports hub for digital retail in heart of downtown

Canadian Tire unveils e-commerce HQ in city's core

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The new Canadian Tire Cloud Computing Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. One of the most advanced centres of its kind in North America, the tour will showcase the 28,000 square foot site, which houses a digital content warehouse, application lab, testing lab and high performance data centre. It will serve as the core digital hub for the Canadian Tire Family of Companies. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger plays with the touch screen during the tour.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The new Canadian Tire Cloud Computing Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. One of the most advanced centres of its kind in North America, the tour will showcase the 28,000 square foot site, which houses a digital content warehouse, application lab, testing lab and high performance data centre. It will serve as the core digital hub for the Canadian Tire Family of Companies. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger plays with the touch screen during the tour. Photo Store

The day after Canadian Tire opened its state-of-art digital headquarters in downtown, city hall took the first step to make good on a financial promise to the retailing giant.

Members of executive policy committee approved a 10-year, $300,000 grant to Canadian Tire – part of the $1.3 million financial incentive package that cemented the firm’s move to Winnipeg.

Mayor Sam Katz said the financial incentives are a worthwhile investment.

"They could have gone to any city in the country and they picked Winnipeg," Katz said. "This is a small economic incentive to have something of that stature here."

Canadian Tire staged its official opening Tuesday for its Cloud Nine Digital Innovation Centre, a 28,000 square foot site on the ninth floor of the Air Canada Centre that houses all the technology the iconic Canadian retailer need to make its websites and online stores run quickly and smoothly.

'We believe that the future of commerce is digital'

-- Canadian Tire's Eugene Roman

"We believe that the future of commerce is digital," Eugene Roman, Canadian Tire’s chief technology officer, said at the opening ceremonies.

"I dreamt of a facility like this 30-odd years ago and now I stand in one."

While Katz was not at the opening, Premier Greg Selinger did cut a virtual ribbon.

The employees who work at Cloud Nine will develop apps for the company’s retail outlets, including Canadian Tire, Mark’s Work Wearhouse and Sport Chek.

"This facility is a world-class facility and it’s going to create jobs not just in the short term but in the long term as we transform retailing in this country with this collaboration and this partnership," Selinger said.

The city will provide Canadian Tire $30,000 annually for the next 10 years so long as its creates and maintains 50 new jobs at the site.

According to the terms of the grant approved by EPC this morning, any decrease in the number of jobs would result in a corresponding percentage decrease in the amount of the grant.

Although city hall announced the incentive last May, the terms of the grant must still be approved by city council, which is expected to happen at next week’s meeting.

In addition to the city’s $300,000, the province is also providing Canadian Tire with $1 million, in exchange for the company’s minimum $10-million investment in the new operation.

Canadian Tire had shut down its e-commerce operations four years ago but it’s now reviving that operation with the opening of the new Winnipeg facility.

Roman said Cloud Nine contains the country’s most powerful computer, able to power 4,000 servers.

"It can do things that would take eight to 12 weeks in 12 minutes," Roman said.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

danelle.cloutier@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 23, 2014 B4

History

Updated on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 11:08 AM CDT: Updates with city grant

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