Target Corp. has posted “record” 2010 earnings as the US retailer reported improving comparable-store sales and benefited from a store expansion programme.

The company said today (24 February) that, during the year ended 29 January, net earnings rose 17.3% to reach US$2.9bn. Sales increased 3.7% to US$65.7bn.

During the fourth quarter, net earnings were up 10.5% to US$1.03bn. Sales rose 2.8% to $20.3bn due to a 2.4% increase in comparable-store sales and the contribution of new stores.

The company said that gross margin fell to 28.7% from 29.1% thanks to the impact of the company’s programme to sell more groceries in store and to its 5% REDcard rewards initiative.

Speaking about the retailer’s plans for 2011, company chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said: “In 2011, we will continue to focus on driving sales and traffic and providing an enhanced shopping experience through key strategic initiatives that include our ambitious remodel program, 5% REDcard Rewards and the launch of our new Target.com platform.

“Beyond 2011, we plan to expand our store footprint in new ways, opening our first City Target stores in 2012 and opening 100 to 150 Canadian Target stores in 2013 and 2014. We believe these transformational initiatives position Target for profitable growth in 2011 and many years to come, and will create meaningful shareholder value over time.”