The official word from Wesfarmers is that it will continue to have a presence in Leongatha, not as Target but as Kmart.

A SHUDDER swept through the Leongatha community last Friday, after the announcement by Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott, fearing the town could be left with yet another vacant shop.

But, in a statement from Target Media Relations, Leongatha will not be one of “up to 75 Target stores to close”, as reported in the city media.

It will be one of 92 to be converted to the Kmart chain.

It will not be closing.

And, subject to negotiations with landlords, the Wonthaggi Target store, at the head of the Wonthaggi Plaza, will also remain open.

“Just wanted to confirm that we have no formal announcements about Wonthaggi. We’re still in discussion with landlords and will confirm once a decision has been made; and we have been able to confirm with the team,” was the official response to a query from the Sentinel-Times.

“Target Leongatha will also be converting to a Kmart hub store in early 2021.”

That’s good news.

Target also shared a copy of its media statement:

“During this difficult time, we are committed to supporting our team. Across the Kmart Group we have made a significant effort to avoid store closures and retain our people and for impacted store team members we have the benefit of time to help find alternative employment opportunities.

“All team members in Target stores scheduled for conversion to Kmart will be offered the opportunity to join the growing Kmart team, for other affected Target team members, we will work with them to identify and offer other redeployment opportunities in Kmart, Catch, Bunnings and Officeworks as these businesses continue to grow.

“We believe that Target has a future as a leading retailer in Australia and we know it is loved by so many, but a number of actions are required to ensure it is fit for purpose in a competitive, challenging and dynamic market, including a smaller number of stores and a stronger online business,” said a Target spokesperson.

Commentators have said that Wesfarmers, the parent company of Target and several other prominent retailers, has been mindful of its heavy involvement in country and regional Australia when making its decisions to close country stores.

But the pressure coming from online retailers has been quoted as one of the main reasons for the change.

Mr Scott told ‘The Age’ and ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ growing pressure from international retailers was one reason for Target’s woes, saying businesses such as Zara, Uniqlo, H&M and Amazon had affected the chain’s viability.

“They have fundamentally changed the competitive environment, particularly as it relates to department stores,” he said.

“We have made every effort within Wesfarmers to find a sustainable path forward for Target,” Mr Scott said.

“But unfortunately, we’re fighting against a number of forces at play that makes it impossible to continue to run a Target business of the same size that we had 10 years ago.”

Closing or re-branding

Which stores are closing in Victoria:

  • Bacchus Marsh, early-mid 2021
  • Bairnsdale, early-mid 2021
  • Benalla, mid 2021
  • Colac, early-mid 2021
  • Kerang, early-mid 2021
  • Langwarrin, early-mid 2021
  • Maryborough, early-mid 2021
  • Myrtleford, early-mid 2021
  • Traralgon, early-mid 2021
  • Warragul, early-mid 2021

Which stores are converting to Kmart

  • Ararat, early-mid 2021
  • Castlemaine, September 2020
  • Cobram, July 2020
  • Echuca, July 2020
  • Hamilton, early 2021
  • Kyabram, September 2020
  • Lakes Entrance, early 2021
  • Leongatha, early 2021
  • Mansfield, early 2021
  • Portland, early 2021
  • Seymour, early 2021
  • Woodend, September 2020
  • Yarrawonga, early 2021

You can read into this list that Wonthaggi’s Target store will remain as is.