Clarke appeals to Target hierarchy
Uncertainty surrounding Target stores across Victoria has prompted Horsham mayor Pam Clarke to appeal to the department chain to be sympathetic when considering its Horsham outlet.
Cr Clarke urged Target decisionmakers to take a good-corporate-citizen view and look beyond ‘the bottom line’ and consider what closing a store in Horsham or Ararat might mean for the communities.
She also encouraged them, if they decided to close a Horsham Target store as part of a broad change in direction, to discuss issues with Horsham Rural City Council and-or other stakeholders before making a final call.
“It is just so vital to the community to have a retailer such as Target in our town,” she said.
“Gateway Shopping Plaza in Horsham was a purpose-built building for Target and it would be more than a great a shame for the region’s shoppers to see it go and leave the majority of the centre empty.
“We’ve all been concerned about the uncertainty surrounding Target’s future in regional centres and of course what this means for Horsham as the primary shopping hub for the Wimmera.
“We just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
National business media outlets have been buzzing with stories about the plans of Target parent company Wesfarmers to either close underperforming Target stores or rebadge them as Kmart, also part of Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers already operates a Kmart store in Horsham, at Horsham Plaza.
Details about which stores will close remain unavailable and Target has neither confirmed nor denied the future of its Horsham outlet.
The chain’s corporate affairs team released a statement that read: “It is business as usual for Target, and all stakeholders will be communicated with well in advance of any planned change to our store network.
“We look forward to continuing our relationship with the communities where we operate and remain committed to providing our customers fashion that excites and quality that endures.
“As always, and with great respect, our team members will be communicated with first if there are any planned changes to our stores.”
Cr Clarke said the statement fell well short of filling her with any confidence about what might happen.
“We understand that Kmart is nearby, but in the fabric of regional life it is important that we can continue to be able to offer people legitimate choice,” she said.
“We urge Target business officials, if they are considering altering their trading circumstances in Horsham, to please provide the council a chance to put its point across.
“We’re just seeing too many city-centric decisions being made that are detrimental to country Victoria.
“If it turns out that Target in Horsham is among underperforming stores, which we don’t know, and set for closure, then at least give us a chance to help rectify circumstances with community engagement.
“Sometimes this approach is better than simply working off a national or statewide business blueprint.
“As regional communities we vary so much and it might be that turning around a Target store comes back to what it simply stocks and promotes.
“People in the Wimmera shop in Horsham and if anyone knows what’s missing it’s the direct consumer, so I would hate to see this type of business go by the wayside without anyone asking what customers want.
“We want Target to ask us, if it comes to the crunch, to at least ask us what needs to happen for it to stay open in Horsham.”