The owner of the Zellers chain of department stores said Thursday the chain will be closing "most" of its stores no later than March 2013.

In 2011, U.S. discount chain Target Corp. bought the leaseholds for 189 Zellers locations across Canada from Hudson's Bay Company, with plans to open Target stores in those locations in late 2012 and early 2013.

Currently, there remain 64 locations that were not included in that deal or don't currently have a scheduled closure date. As such, they could have theoretically continued to operate under the Zellers name.

But on Thursday, HBC confirmed in an email to CBC News that the company does not plan to keep "most" remaining Zellers locations open beyond next March.

"After a lengthy review and numerous discussions with various parties, it became apparent that continuing to operate the Zellers banner in its current form was not viable, particularly given the geographic footprint of the remaining locations," the company said.

"Zellers is considering options for certain locations, including potentially rebranding some stores, which will result in certain stores remaining open for the foreseeable future," HBC said. "This will be determined at a later date."

The average Zellers location employs roughly 100 people, so as many as 6,400 jobs could be at stake.

The company did not specify which locations might still remain open.