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Target Announces Victoria, Island Locations

by Andrew duffy

A bull's eye will be set on Victoria's Tillicum Centre in 2013 when U.S. retailing giant Target takes over the Zellers location.

Target has announced that Zellers stores at Tillicum Centre and three other Island locations — Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre in Campbell River, Driftwood Mall in Courtenay and Nanaimo's North Town Centre — will become Target outlets.

There was no announcement regarding the capital region's only other Zellers store at Hillside Centre, although Target announced earlier it would keep some Zellers stores operating.

In all, Target unveiled plans Thursday for 15 B.C. locations in what is expected to be just the first wave of rebranding Zellers locations.

In total, 105 Target locations will open in Canada in 2013 with 45 in Ontario, 19 in Quebec, 13 in Alberta and the rest spread throughout the other provinces.

Administration staff at Victoria's Tillicum Centre, owned by RioCan, were only just digesting the news Thursday morning and deferred comment to corporate headquarters in Toronto as to the impact of the announcement.

Mary Anne Kenwood, property manager at Tillicum, said while the Target addition would be considered "good news" the shopping centre has been holding its own despite the turbulent economic conditions over the last two years.

However, she was quick to point out she would love to see some sun as that tends to drive shopping traffic.

"No one wants to go shopping for summer clothes when it's 12 degrees outside," she said.

Target, known for its low prices on higher-end style, bought the lease rights for 220 Zellers locations from the Hudson's Bay Co. for $1.8 billion in January.

At the time the company said it planned to open as many as 150 Target stores in Zellers locations by 2014.

The news that one of those Target stores will be placed in Tillicum should not unnerve Victoria's small business owners, but a Royal Roads University faculty of management professor suggests certain big-box retailers will feel an impact.

"Target is seen by many Canadians as a cool Walmart, or a more attractive or socially acceptable Walmart," said Geoff Archer, director of RRU's Eric C. Douglass Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Target, now the second-largest discount retailer in the U.S. after Walmart, has marketed itself as a stylish alternative to the No. 1 retailer and offers more high-end brands.

"For years in the U.S. people have been referring to it as Targé because it has an acceptable, fun, nice concept," said Archer. "There are a lot of house brands and generic stuff that seems like it is more of a preferred substitute for a name brand than what you would expect of a Walmart."

The new store is also likely to breathe new life into tired Zellers locations, said Archer, noting as an American who has lived here for just two years he's familiar with Target and says there's no comparison between the two.

"I've been into a Zellers and frankly I am going to avoid it," he said, noting it is reminiscent of the old-school, large stores of the early 1980s — dim lighting, narrow aisles and unattractive metal shelving.

"It doesn't have the same kind of class-leading investment in catching your eye with style and design."

Archer said the proliferation of American retailers in Canada is to be expected.

The fact Canadians are well aware of and like the brands already and the relative strength of the Canadian economy makes this country an attractive place to set up shop, said Archer.

"Those retailers are aware Canadians like them and those retailers go where the money is," Archer said.

Target has estimated about 10 per cent of Canadians crossing the border have paid a visit to one of its U.S. stores in each of the past five years.

Times Colonist, May 26 2011

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