Australian discount department store retailer Target could see up to 75 of its stores being closed and many others converted to another of its owner’s banners. And over 1,000 jobs will be affected, its parent company Wesfarmers revealed on Friday.
The numbers aren’t yet set in stone with anything from 10 to 40 large-format Target stores to be converted to Kmart, although this requires landlord agreement. Some 52 Target Country stores, which are mainly located in regional locations, will become small-format Kmart branches while 50 Target Country locations will shut completely. Anything from 10 to 25 large-format Targets in other areas will close, and it all adds up to more than half of its total portfolio being closed or converted.
The news, which led a government minister to call for a boycott of the company, could mean some rural areas being left without a department store.
Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott blamed competition from international retailers such as Zara, Uniqlo, H&M, and Amazon for the strategy change. Scott said that currently, Target’s cost base was unsustainable and it’s impossible to run it as a chain of the size that worked a decade ago.
Target has been an underperformer in the Wesfarmers portfolio and has lagged behind Kmart, as well as struggling to differentiate itself from its portfolio-mate.
The situation created by the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the need to restructure the firm’s operations and there could be further Target closures in the future with an update due in August.
Despite a large number of closures, only a total of 1,300 jobs could be lost at Target, as the company also said some staff could find positions elsewhere in the company.
And as well as shrinking its store portfolio, the firm wants to expand digitally with a focus on boosting both the Target and Kmart websites.