Business

Target sights set on Nanaimo

The future is uncertain for workers currently employed at Zellers at Nanaimo North Town Centre.

On Thursday, the giant U.S. retailer that purchased the leases for most of the Zellers locations across Canada, announced which stores would be converted to the Target brand, including Nanaimo.

By 2013, 105 Zellers locations will make the switch; however, Zellers employees will not be guaranteed a job at the renamed and renovated stores.

“We’re working with [Target Canada] on a process so all the Zellers employees will have an opportunity to apply for jobs at Target,” said Freda Colbourne, spokeswoman for the Hudson’s Bay Company, Zellers’ parent company.

Each Zellers location currently employs between 100 and 120 associates, Colbourne said, while each Target store will employ 150 to 200 workers.

“They certainly need a lot of employees across the country. We’ll work with them to develop a process for our employees to apply for those positions.”

Target aims to eventually acquire lease agreements for up to 220 Zellers stores nationwide.

“We are excited that these initial store sites ensure Target will be represented throughout the country,” said Tony Fisher, president of Target Canada, in  a press release. “We look forward to … [moving] one step closer to delivering the Target brand shopping experience to our Canadian guests.”

In January, a $1.8-billion deal was announced by the Hudson’s Bay Company to sell Zellers to the American retailers.

“The sale … is estimated to create over 20,000 net new jobs in Canada and has the potential to generate over $1.5 billion in Canadian economic activity through the renovation of the Zellers locations,” stated an HBC press release in January.

Each renovation is estimated to cost $10 million and take six to nine months to complete.

“Those are very substantial renovations in the commercial sector,” said Greg Baynton, president of the Vancouver Island Construction Association. “Ten million dollars is the equivalent of building a good, mid-sized school. And when you think of them doing four locations [Victoria, Courtenay and Campbell River Zellers will be transformed, too], the magnitude of the impact these projects will have on the Island is significant.”

Big box stores sometimes use in-house contractors and staff to work on the projects, Baynton said, though that’s not necessarily going to be the case. Local suppliers, at least, are almost guaranteed to reap benefits from the renovations.

A timeline for when each of the 105 locations will open, beginning in 2013, will be released at a later date.

The Zellers chain has been operational in Canada since the early 1930s, when Water P. Zeller purchased 14 Schulte-United stores and transformed them into Zellers.

There are 279 Zellers stores across Canada.

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