Off Target: stores to close

Target Country in Clare will close in early to mid-2021 as part of a major restructure of the Wesfarmers-owned group, announced last Friday.

Across Australia, 167 Target stores will close or be re-branded as a Kmart store, with Target in Clare one of 75 earmarked to close without a re-branding.

Other stores in South Australia to close are Millicent, Naracoorte, Pasadena and Port Lincoln.

SA stores to be re-branded as Kmart include Berri, Murray Bridge, Port Augusta and Victor Harbor.

Target would not be drawn on the number of employees in its Clare store, instead telling the Plains Producer “we are commencing an extensive process of reaching out to our stores and those team members most impacted by the changes announced on Friday, to explain what it means for them. Once we have talked to our teams, we will be in a position to share specific store information”.

A Target spokesperson said stores would close to focus on a smaller number of stores and a stronger online business.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

Target’s website said its “support” of regional locations where stores will close, would include increasing awareness of its online business; form focus groups of customers from areas without stores to continue to seek their feedback on Target’s online offering and how Target can support them post store closure; and offer delivery options to regional customers.

News of Target Country’s pending closure in Clare was met with discontent across the region, with social media lighting up with posts and comments from concerned residents.

Among them was Booborowie resident Heather Davy who posted her concerns on Facebook, and it seems many others agreed, with her post shared almost 200 times by others sharing her sentiments.

Ms Davy said Clare was her regional shopping hub, and she regularly travelled the 110-kilometre round trip to access shops and services in the town.

“Around Clare surroundings there are probably a good 30 towns that depend on Target in Clare,” she said.

“It’s extremely disappointing. I like to shop local, I like that I can go into Target and buy a set of sheets or a present or work pants that are a reasonable price.

“I think Target is an essential store in Clare. The town has got some really beautiful shops and I do tend to look in those little stores while I’m in Clare, but if the big stores go, those little shops are also going to suffer badly and that’s also my concern.

“I travel 56km each way to Clare to shop, but if I have to travel further for these bigger stores then I will be thinking I might as well get everything else while I’m there too – I’ll probably be looking to go to Gawler, Elizabeth or Tea Tree Gully instead.”

Ms Davy called on other residents to contact Members of Parliament Geoff Brock and Dan van Holst Pellekaan to voice their concerns at the void the closure of Target would leave in Clare.

Member for Frome Geoff Brock said he would welcome a conversation with residents sharing these concerns and said he was “frustrated” by national retailers who were taking regional people for granted.

Mr Brock said he would be writing to Target parent company Wesfarmers to voice his “disgust and disappointment” at the news of the closure of regional Target stores.

“It’s devastating news, quite frankly,” Mr Brock said.

“I’m very frustrated with the national chains for taking regional communities for granted. They have already closed their Port Pirie store, they are actually snubbing their noses at our regional communities with no regard for the people in these communities.

“I’ve been into Target in Clare on a number of occasions and it is a very spacious store, has a good range of products, their staff are fantastic and I think it’s a tragedy they’re closing the store that is the only one of its kind there.

“They are encouraging people to buy online and the more we do that the more we decimate regional communities.”

Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council mayor Wayne Thomas echoed these concerns, saying he was disappointed with Wesfarmers which had been historically well-supported by rural communities.

“Target is a drawcard for the Clare main street, it contributes to the regional shopping appeal for Clare,” he said.

“The closure of this retail store will have a detrimental impact on our communities.”