Drone mishap no barrier to Canadian Tire’s digital retail future

A Canadian Tire store in North Vancouver.

A Canadian Tire store in North Vancouver. JONATHAN HAYWARD / CP FILE PHOTO

While Canadian Tire Corp. Chief Executive Officer Michael Medline hasn’t had the best of luck with delivery drones, he says home delivery is vital to the 93-year- old retailer’s push into online shopping.

In an interview last week, Medline related an unfortunate experience with the nascent technology while giving speech in 2014. A drone was supposed to deliver a box mini doughnuts to him on stage then fly away. Instead, it crashed before completing its delivery, dropping its precious cargo.

“People thought I crashed it on purpose to make fun of it,” Medline, 52, said with a laugh. “Everyone thought I was making some large statement about drone delivery or competitors, which I was not trying to do.”

While the drones touted by competitors including Amazon.com Inc. may not be quite ready for prime time, investing in the future is key for a retailer that’s reinvented itself more than once to become one of the largest chains in Canada with a share price at a record high. The Toronto-based retailer has about 1,700 outlets, selling household and sporting goods, gasoline and auto-parts.

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