Target is abandoning Canada after a failed foray into the retail market north of the border.
The U.S. retail giant announced Thursday morning it’s closing all 133 Target stores in Canada, including the outlet at Vernon’s Village Green Centre.
“It’s amazing how the expansion into Canada went that wrong,” said Kevin Poole, the City of Vernon’s economic development manager.
Target Corporation acquired the leases of 220 Zellers across Canada in 2011, and it opened a new 103,000-square-foot store in the Village Green Centre in May 2013.
However, the expansion into Canada ran into financial challenges, and Target has been granted court protection from its creditors.
“After a thorough review of our Canadian performance and careful consideration of the implications of all options, we were unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021. Personally, this was a very difficult decision, but it was the right decision for our company,” said Brian Cornell, Target Corporation chairman, in a release.
News of the closure caught Vernon customers by surprise Thursday.
“It was my go-to store for staples, diapers, toilet paper, toiletries, it was always the cheapest,” said Ashley Neelin as she went into the store.
“I’m going to miss having it here (Target), the store is clean, the staff is friendly and they have Starbucks. I’m sad that my options are going to be more limited now. I feel so bad about all the people losing their jobs.”
Target Canada employs about 17,600 people (figures for Vernon are unknown).
“While the announcement is not a total shock it is obviously unfortunate for those who work there and that’s where the short-term focus should be to help those employees in transition to other employment,” said Dan Rogers, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce manager.
Target stores will remain open during a court-supervised liquidation, and closings will vary on a store-by-store basis.
“The stores will all likely be closed within 16 to 20 weeks,” stated Target in an e-mail.
Poole hopes to work with Bentall Kennedy, owner of the Village Green Centre, to try and find a tenant for the Target space as commercial amenities draw investors and new residents to the community.
He will also be attending the International Shopping Centre conference in Whistler at the end of January, but Poole admits identifying a new retailer could be challenging.
“There’s not a lot of 100,000-square-foot tenants in Canada looking for space.”
Rogers believes the Target closure may not hurt Vernon’s economy long-term.
“It presents an opportunity for others to fill the gap and that might be good news for many of our retail members who could expand their offerings,” he said.
No one from the Village Green Centre or Bentall Kennedy could be reached for comment.