Walmart to take over former Target space at Coquitlam Centre

A new Walmart could be opening up in the Tri-Cities, after the company purchased the store lease from the former Target location at Coquitlam Centre.

The deal was part of a larger acquisition that saw Walmart purchase 12 store leases across Canada, as well as a distribution centre in Ontario.

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The total cost of the investment was $165 million and the company said it intends to spend a further $185 million to renovate the new properties.

"The 13 stores acquired are well situated and we are excited to bring Walmart's successful Supercentre offer to customers in these markets," said Walmart Canada president and CEO Dirk Van den Berghe in a press release. "We have served millions of loyal customers and look forward to continuing to serve them through our stores and growing e-commerce business."

Walmart's press release stated that work on all the new locations is expected to begin within the next few months, subject to all necessary approvals.

Because of the acquisition, Walmart said it will be hiring 3,400 new employees in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. The company also noted that the renovations will create 1,500 trade and construction jobs.

Earlier this year, Target Canada announced that it would be closing 133 stores across the country, with 17,600 employees losing their jobs.

The announcement came after the company recorded a $6.5 billion pre-tax loss in its fourth quarter last year, mostly related to its Canadian operations.

"We have not realized the significant improvement in Canadian consumer sentiment that we believe is necessary," Target's chief executive Brian Cornell said at the time. "Put simply, we have not seen the step-change in performance we told you we needed to see."

Before its launch, Target was viewed as a considerable threat to Canadian retailers of all sizes, partly because its reputation with consumers was unique. Many Canadian shoppers would trek south of the border to wander the aisles of U.S. Target stores in search of deals and products they couldn't find at home.

But when Target arrived in Canada the story wasn't the same, and complaints flooded social media about empty shelves, high prices and a selection that fell short of expectations.

"Canadian consumers walked in expecting the American store experience and got this watered down version," said Brynn Winegard, a marketing analyst at Winegard and Company.

Target was not the only tenant to vacate Coquitlam Centre mall this year.

In March, Future Shop announced the closure of its Tri-City location when Best Buy Canada decided it would be consolidating the two chains.

In reviewing its bricks-and-mortar footprint, Best Buy Canada said they found several of its Future Shop and Best Buy stores were located adjacent to each other, often in the same parking lot, according to a release. (In Coquitlam, Best Buy is located across the street from Coquitlam Centre at Pinetree Village.)

Across Canada, 66 Future Shop stores were closed while another 65 others were transitioned to the Best Buy brand.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

@gmckennaTC

-with files from Sarah Payne and the Canadian Press

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