Target closure reignites Kmart calls

Central Ward councillor Collin Ross believes the Main Street Target site should be converted into a Kmart.

The announcement to close a number of Target stores and convert others into Kmarts has reignited calls to bring the mega-popular retail chain to Pakenham, however Target has confirmed the store would stay put as is, for now.

In a bid to address Target’s “unsustainable financial performance”, Wesfarmers announced on Friday 22 May that up to 75 Target stores would close and a number of “suitable” stores would instead become a Kmart.

Cardinia Shire Council Central Ward councillor Collin Ross has been a vocal member of the Kmart convocation, and is one of many Pakenham residents clinging to hope that the Target store, which currently operates on Main Street, could convert in the future.

“If that store was converted into a Kmart, it would no doubt be sad for those who love Target, but it would be a ginormous move forward for the retail sector in Pakenham,” Cr Ross told the Gazette.

“I think it’d be absolutely fantastic. I’d be a huge supporter of the idea because it would attract so many more people to the area.

“You’ve got poor old Priceline battling and I think if you brought a Kmart out, Priceline could fire up again and a I think you’d see a few of the other vacant shops filled.”

Councillor Ross said since the Main Street Woolworths site shut down, the complex had been lacking foot traffic.

“It would bring so much more activity to that area. We’d be welcoming more people to Pakenham and locals would no longer need to travel out to Fountain Gate,” he said.

Westfield Fountain Gate in Narre Warren remains the closest Kmart store for residents of Pakenham, Officer and neighbouring suburbs.

The decision to close the stores was announced as part of the first phase into a Target review.

Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said the retail sector had recorded a “significant structural change and disruption”.

“With the exception of Target, Wesfarmers’ retail businesses are well-positioned to respond to the changes in consumer behaviour and competition associated with this disruption,” Mr Scott said.

“The actions announced reflect our continued focus on investing in Kmart, a business with a compelling customer offer and strong competitive advantages, while also improving the viability of Target by addressing some of its structural challenges by simplifying the business model.”

Between 10 to 25 large format stores and 50 small format country stores will be closed while a number will convert to Kmart.

The Gazette has confirmed with Target that the Pakenham site isn’t scheduled to close or convert at this stage.

It’s understood that Warragul Target has been earmarked to close.

“We believe that Target has a future as a leading retailer in Australia and we know it is loved by so many, but a number of actions are required to ensure it is fit for purpose in a competitive, challenging and dynamic market,” a Target spokesperson said.

“All team members in Target stores scheduled for conversion to Kmart will be offered the opportunity to join the growing Kmart team.

“For other affected Target team members, we will work with them to identify and offer other redeployment opportunities.”