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Target yet to set Zellers sites

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It is too early to predict which Zellers Inc. stores in Nova Scotia will become part of the giant retail world of Target Corp., says a Target executive.

Michael Francis, the chain’s executive vice-president and chief marketing officer who is leading Target’s expansion into Canada, made the comment Wednesday while about a dozen members of Target’s expansion team were assessing the province’s 13 Zeller’s locations.

“Obviously our typical U.S. stores are bigger than most of the 220 (Canadian) sites currently operated by Zellers, but we are also in the process of launching smaller retail locations in some urban areas of U.S. markets,” Francis said.

Some of the new U.S. stores will be in the 60,000 square foot range, less than half the size of a typical 135,000-square-foot Target store. And the change to this smaller model could have implications for some Canadian and Nova Scotia communities.

“No location should be ruled in or out based on the size of the box,” Francis said.

Target super stores in the U.S. can measure between 160,000 and 190,000 square feet, but these larger retail outlets are not part of the local game plan that will see some Canadian Zellers locations converted in 2012 and opening in 2013.

“When a location is selected to become a Target store, it will be closed for a considerable period of time to allow for significant renovations,” Francis said.

About three months ago, Target announced it would pay $1.8 billion to purchase Zellers leasehold interests in Canada.

Word on which Canadian stores will be the first to undergo renovations can be expected later this year, said Francis.

Target has previously indicated it will initially open between 100 and 150 stores across Canada.

There has been rampant speculation among local Zellers staff and shoppers about which Nova Scotia locations will close. Some employees at the Bayers Lake Zellers said they were told that location will become a Target and they will have to apply to the new operator.

Francis said any information about the future of particular locations was not coming from Target since the assessment process is just beginning.

As far as future employment is concerned, he said Target stores typically hire about 60 per cent more people than its competitors, so there will be more jobs at stores with the Target banner.

Zellers is a subsidiary of the Hudson’s Bay Co. Some Zellers locations are expected to continue to operate under the Zellers banner for an indefinite period of time while the Target expansion into Canada is underway.

Target sells everything from hankies and food to hardware and designer clothing.

In the U.S., it is an aggressive competitor to Walmart.

Source: The Chronicle Herald

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