Ottawa

Target closure leaves big vacancies at Ottawa malls

The impending demise of U.S. retail chain Target's Canadian stores creates a dilemma for Ottawa-area malls and shopping outlets that were relying on it as an anchor tenant.

Billings Bridge, Hazeldean and Bayshore malls all planned on Target as anchor tenant

Target says it will close all of its stores in Canada, a market that it entered only two years ago. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

The impending demise of U.S. retail chain Target's Canadian stores creates a dilemma for Ottawa-area malls and shopping outlets that were relying on it as an anchor tenant.

On Thursday Target said it would close all 133 of its Canadian stores, putting 17,600 employees out of work. The company had only launched in Canada in March 2013, not quite two years ago.

In Ottawa, it was the anchor tenant at the Billings Bridge and Hazeldean malls, as well as the County Fair Mall in Smiths Falls, Ont., and Target's large space at Bayshore Shopping Centre hadn't even opened yet.

Stores in Gatineau and Kingston will also close.

Filling the vacancies will be difficult, says Michael Mulvey, an assistant professor who teaches marketing at the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management.

"It's a massive challenge because I think that what was striking upon its entry was the scope of which they decided to come in here — they didn't do it gently they did it nationally — so I just don't see the possibility of another retailer coming in and taking over those spaces," said Mulvey.

"It's going to be done on a piecemeal basis and I imagine there are going to be some empty retail spaces in some communities. It's not going to go away for a while."

People in Cornwall, Ont., are also wondering what might replace Target when its huge distribution centre ceases operations. About 350 people work at the Cornwall facility, which supplied Target stores across eastern Canada.

Mark Boileau, the economic development manager for the City of Cornwall, says the community will have to respond to the loss of local jobs, but said it’s too early to determine what will be done with the facility.

Target has not said when exactly the stores will close, or when the liquidation sales will start.

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