WARDS MAY OPEN DOORS FOR TARGET

Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK — In a mass one-day round of openings, Target said last week that it will launch 36 new Target stores in 21 states on Oct. 14, 2001.
However, it’s likely that Target opens many more stores this year due to it’s interest in many of the 250 Wards locations that are being liquidated and put up for sale. At the National Retail Federation’s annual convention here last week, Robert J. Ulrich, Target Corp. chairman and chief executive officer, confirmed to WWD that the company was interested in Wards locations, though he wasn’t specific on how many. He acknowledged that Target generally builds its own stores, but has moved into sites once occupied by other retailers, including Caldor.
Earlier last week, there was speculation that Target could be interested in 50 to 100 of the Wards locations and that a deal could happen within two months. Wards declared bankruptcy last month. A selloff of assets must be approved by bankruptcy court.
Target currently operates 977 stores in 46 states. Of the units announced, Target is opening nine Super Targets in Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas. The chain mostly has one-level units, but multilevel sites will open in Abington Township, Pa.; Deerfield Beach, Fla., Minneapolis and Queens, N.Y.
At the convention, Ulrich received the NRF Gold Medal Award. During his acceptance speech, he stressed it’s now tougher to obtain retail real estate in the U.S. “Twenty states have passed laws to restrain growth. We won’t build a location if the population and other factors won’t support it+ Local governments need to work with retailers — not against them.” He stressed that retailers add jobs and tax dollars, support vendors and “give back to communities” through charity work.
Ulrich also cited two issues confronting retailers: taxing Internet sales to provide “a level playing field” and information security. “Take time to participate in community decisions that affect your ability to grow,” Ulrich urged his audience.

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