Clarke ap­peals to Tar­get hi­er­ar­chy

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.

Tar­get po­si­tion

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.”

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