Walmart picks up 13 Target locations

Loblaw appears to be steering clear of closing retailer's real estate

Walmart is buying 13 of the former Target Canada stores plus a distribution centre in Cornwall, Ont.
Walmart Canada says it will spend about $165 million for the leases and properties and a further $185 million on renovations to turn them into Walmart Supercentres.

The $350-million plan is subject to court approval, as part of Target’s exit from the Canadian market.

Walmart expects renovations to start in a few months and to employ about 1,500 trade and construction workers.

It also plans to hire about 2,400 people to set up and staff the stores and another 1,000 for the distribution centre.

Walmart Canada’s president and CEO, Dirk Van den Berghe described the 13 stores as “well situated,” adding that “we are excited to bring Walmart’s successful Supercentre offer to customers in these markets.”

No date has been set yet as to when the stores will reopen as Walmarts, but the company pointed out that renovating the 13 stores will be in addition to the 29 Supercentre stores that Walmart had planned to open this year already. Those projects, announced in February, include new store constructions and converting existing discount stores to Supercentres.

Walmart is the second major retailer to pick up stores from Target Canada, which filed for bankruptcy in January and closed its doors last month. Earlier this week, Canadian Tire acquired 12 Target leases for $17.7 million.

Retail analysts had earlier speculated that perhaps Loblaw might pick up some Target stores as well but during an analysts’ call on Wednesday company president Galen Weston hinted that might not be the case.

“We are certainly involved in discussions there although we don’t expect it to be meaningful from our perspective,” Weston said in response to a question about the Target leases, according to Seeking Alpha, a financial website. “There is not a huge number of sites that would be particularly complementary to us. So you shouldn’t expect any meaningful news from us in the coming months on that.”

Target’s distribution centre in Cornwall was built by the retailer when it came to Canada. The 1.3 million-sq.-ft. facility supported 41 of the company’s stores in eastern Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

That Walmart is acquiring the facility is noteworthy as the company already has its own 1.4 million-sq. ft. warehouse in Cornwall, a city that has become something of a distribution hub for major retailers.

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