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Zellers Targeted 0

MIRANDA MINASSIAN, The Packet & Times

It is official: the Zellers store at Orillia Square is becoming a Target.

The Sunshine City was one of the first 24 future Target Canada locations announced by the corporation Thursday.

"We're thrilled that everyone is so excited. People have been very welcoming before we arrived," said Lisa Gibson, spokesperson for Target Canada.

A year ago, the retailer got the ball rolling to purchase 189 leaseholds currently operated by Zellers Inc., with a plan to open 125 to 135 stores in Canada.

"The timing of the announcements is based on the targeted opening date and the period needed to remodel the facilities. That, combined with the fact that we are really working with Zellers to make sure they have time to notify their stores," Gibson said.

Zellers employees were notified Wednesday of the store closure, scheduled for this September.

"Certainly, we have been communicating with associates throughout the process and will continue to do so," said Zellers spokesperson Tiffany Bourré.

Current employees will be out of a job when the store closes. However, Target is encouraging anyone laid off, as well as the general public, to apply for positions.

Bourré wouldn't say how many employees work at the Orillia Zellers store, only that the average store has about 100 employees.

An employee at Zellers in Orillia told The Packet & Times there are fewer than 100 employees at the local store.

Target expects each of their stores will employ between 100 and 150 people, Gibson said, noting most store locations will see an increase in employees.

Hiring of store leads and the executive team will begin midway through this year, with the rest of the employees being hired by the end of the year.

Zellers will continue to operate the 84 stores where leaseholds were not purchased by Target.

"We are currently reviewing our options for the remaining stores," Bourré said. "Early this year, we expect to release our go-forward strategy."

Canadian consumers can expect a similar retail experience as they have experienced south of the border.

"We actually have done quite a bit of research, talking to Canadian guests who actually shop at Target in the States. Their feedback has been that they would like the Target brand experience that they get in the States," Gibson said, "as well, having the same culture for the team members of Target and, really, the same kind of commitment to the community that they have always had."

Since 1946, Target has donated 5% of its income to the communities in which the stores are located. Today, the corporation's contribution to local communities totals more than $3 million per week.

Orillia is the northern-most location announced to date.

Target anticipates opening the Orillia store, along with the other 23 new locations, in March or early April of 2013.

Other locations set to open Target stores:

- London Westmount, Westmount Shopping Centre

- Kawartha Lakes, Lindsay Square Mall

- Newmarket, Upper Canada Mall

- Milton, Milton Mall Shopping Centre

- Cambridge, Cambridge Centre

- Toronto, Centrepoint Mall

- Mississauga, Square One Shopping Centre

- Ajax, Durham Centre

- Brampton, Shoppers World Brampton

- London, Masonville Place

- Windsor, Devonshire Mall

- Toronto, Cloverdale Mall

- Toronto, Shoppers World Danforth

- Burlington, Burlington Mall

- Toronto, East York Town Centre

- Aurora, Aurora Shopping Centre

- Fergus, Gates of Fergus

- Hamilton, Centre Mall

- Guelph, Stone Road Mall

- Burlington, Millcroft Centre

- Waterdown, Flamborough Power Centre

- Whitby, Taunton Road Power Centre

- Brampton, Trinity Common

mminassian@orilliapacket.com


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