Layoff notices issued to hundreds of Guelph and Fergus Zellers employees

The Zellers store on Stone Road and the one in Fergus are to layoff its employees and close in a few months as preparations are underway to convert them into Target outlets.

A notice of store closure and layoffs went out to employees on Wednesday at both locations. Hudson’s Bay Co. spokesperson Tiffany Bourré would not disclose the exact number of employees affected, but said each store averages about 100 employees.

“We are encouraging our associates to apply for positions with Target,” Bourré said, adding though the hiring decision is left up to Target.

Target officially announced its first of 24 stores that will be opening in Canada Thursday morning. The American discount retailer took over the leases of 189 sites operated by Zellers Inc. and plans to open 125 to 135 stores in Canada by March or April 2013.

The Zellers location at 175 Stone Rd.W. will close June 16 and the Fergus store will close on Sept. 15. Bourré said many of the employees will remain in their positions until the store closes.

The employees affected will be offered career transition and support services. Within the next weeks, Bourré said, an online program will be launched to offer tips on resume writing, interview skills and professional development.

Amy Reilly, Target spokesperson said about 150 to 200 employees are expected to be hired for each store. Initially, hiring will take place for store managers. Positions will be posted throughout the year on

“Today marks the winding down of the Zellers stores,” Reilly said Thursday.

She said significant re-modelling of the stores will take place with Target spending about $10 million on renovations. At some locations, entire storefronts will be re-designed, some stores will be rebuilt and others will see expansions.

The closure of the Zellers stores will take anywhere from six to nine months and the re-modelling of the Target stores will likely take a similar amount of time, Reilly said.

“Shopping in a Target store is unlike any experience with its big, clean, bright aisles . . . and great aesthetics,” she said, adding Target wants to fit into each community it opens a store within.

The company’s store averages 100,000 to 135,000 square feet.

The Zellers store at Willow West mall was replaced by a Leon's Furniture last August leaving only one other Zellers store, apart from the Stone Road location, on Eramosa Road.

Bourré said the Eramosa Road store will continue to operate as Zellers. There are 84 Zellers stores that weren’t acquired by Target.

“We are still reviewing our options for the remaining Zellers stores across the country,” she said.

Source: Guelph Mercury