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Last year, giant US retailer Target embarked on the first phase of its international expansion: Canada. It was a disaster.Never one to do things by half, the company opened 124 stores and three distribution centres over the course of a year and lost nearly $1bn.

A broken supply chain was at the heart of the catastrophe, said employees, who complained that “shipments of many products coming into warehouses did not match data in Target’s computer system”, creating bottlenecks as staff “scrambled to reconcile differences”. It has just embarked on a massive turnaround.

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