Target store closures: Wesfarmers tight-lipped on which stores will be impacted

BUSINESS: Some Target stores will close across Australia during 2019/20, but parent company Wesfarmers will not confirm which locations. Photo: FILE
BUSINESS: Some Target stores will close across Australia during 2019/20, but parent company Wesfarmers will not confirm which locations. Photo: FILE

STRUGGLING Target stores will be closed, but staff in the Central West are yet to learn if their store will be impacted.

The future of some of the discount chain's stores has come into question following a decline in sales and the retailer's parent company confirming some locations will close this financial year.

Sales declined by 1.5 per cent during 2018/19 with 15 stores across Australia closed down during this 12-month period.

Target currently operates a national network of 289 stores, including in: Bathurst, Cowra, Dubbo, Forbes, Lithgow, Mudgee, Parkes, Cootamundra, Goulburn and Yass.

More than 13,000 people are employed in Target's stores, support offices and sourcing operations.

Australian Community Media (ACM) understands that the future of each under-performing store will be decided prior to its lease coming up for renewal.

It's quite difficult to predict what's happening in the Australian economy and what's going on in the global economy where there's quite a lot of uncertainties at the moment.

Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott

A report to the Australian Securities Exchange by parent company Wesfarmers said there had been "difficult trading conditions in an increasingly competitive market".

Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said this had "certainly impacted sales and earnings".

"It's quite difficult to predict what's happening in the Australian economy and what's going on in the global economy where there's quite a lot of uncertainties at the moment," he said.

The move comes following Big W's announcement in April that it would shut 30 stores nationally, with staff at six Central West stores still in limbo; and while the Reject Shop is also planning to close some stores none of those will occur in this region.

A Wesfarmers spokesman told ACM that at this stage it was "business as usual".

"All stakeholders will be communicated with well in advance of any planned change to Target's store network," he said.

"As always, and with great respect, our team members will be communicated with first if there are any planned changes to our stores and in all cases we will work with impacted team members to find redeployment opportunities at other Target stores or across the broader Wesfarmers Group."

Mr Scott hinted that Target could pivot towards a greater online focus thanks to strong growth in e-commerce sales and also in click and collect.

"This is creating a whole new growth opportunity for all of our businesses that we simply didn't have before when we didn't have as expansive and sophisticated data and digital capabilities," he said.

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