American retail giant Target has selected some of Metro Vancouver's hottest regional shopping centres, including Langley, as beachheads for its entry into the Canadian market.
On Thursday, Target announced that 15 British Columbia Zellers locations will be among the first 105 across Canada where it will take over store leases with the intent of converting them into Target outlets by 2013 as part of its $1.825-billion takeover of the Zellers chain.
Target announced in January that it negotiated a deal to take over the leases of up to 220 Zellers locations, and on Thursday, Target Canada president Tony Fisher said the initial roster will "ensure Target will be represented throughout the country."
Fisher said the discount retailer analyzed trade areas based on demographics, competition and market potential to identify trade areas that "would be well served by a Target store."
In Metro Vancouver, those locations included Willowbrook in Langley, Oakridge Centre in Vancouver, Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby, Coquitlam Centre, Scottsdale Mall in Delta, and Haney Place in Maple Ridge.
Elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, Target has zeroed in on the Abbotsford Power Centre and the Cottonwood Mall in Chilliwack.
Some of the location decisions appear obvious because of their strength as regional centres, according to Jim Smerdon, director of retail and strategic planning at Colliers International Consulting.
They are spots with strong trading areas, but where Target sees it can improve on Zellers' performance, which may be lagging because of the poor performance of its brand.
"Those are easy ones to evaluate, potentially, simply based on the populations of those areas and the potential for sales," Smerdon said.
In other locations, Smerdon added that Target "clearly made those location decisions in the first round very strategically to position themselves against Walmart."
The Cottonwood Mall location, for instance, which will face off against a new Walmart location being built near Chilliwack, is one of those locations, Smerdon said.
Smerdon said he found some locations for Target's rollout in B.C., and some absences, surprising.
For instance, the list includes four locations on Vancouver Island, but none in Kamloops or Kelowna.
However, Smerdon said that could be a matter of the lease conditions and amenability of landlords to make changes.
"There are probably a couple of stores on the list that maybe weren't high priority stores, but the [landlords] just made it very easy for the transition," he added.
And Smerdon said Target is still actively searching for development sites to build stores and they are likely looking to fill other gaps, such as Richmond, a large population area.
- Derrick Penner is a reporter with the Vancouver Sun