Narrabri Shire Council, the Chamber of Commerce and Narrabri district shoppers have expressed dismay at the announcement that Narrabri Target Country store will be closed next year.

Operators of Target, Wesfarmers, announced on Friday that the Narrabri store is to be closed in early-mid 2021 along with many other country stores.

Cr Cathy Redding said the council would ‘fight the decision.’ “Narrabri Shire Council is extremely shocked and disappointed by the announcement of the imminent closure of the Narrabri Target Country store,” the mayor said.

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Narrabri Chamber of Commerce is working with the council to have the closure plan revisited by Wesfarmers.

“Council is very much aware of the ramifications this closure will have for the community and the staff of the Narrabri store and is determined to exhaust all avenues in either having this decision reviewed or investigate suitable alternatives for the sake of our community,” Cr Redding said.

“This decision has come as a shock as Council had been advised not so long ago when other Target store closures were occurring that the Narrabri Target Country store was doing well and was not earmarked for closure.

“This comes on the back of an extended drought and COVID-19.

“We understand this is a business decision to close many stores however, that will not stop us fighting very hard for the Narrabri store to remain open.”

Narrabri will be one of 167 stores across Australia would be closed or re-badged as a Kmart store.

Moree and Gunnedah Targets will become Kmarts.

Store closures range across towns smaller than Narrabri and much bigger centres.

In Narrabri Target employs a significant number of full time and casual employees.

Narrabri Chamber of Commerce president Russell Stewart welcomed the mayor’s announcement that Narrabri Shire Council would be fighting to retain the Narrabri Target Country store.

“The Chamber will work with the council to endeavour to have this decision by Wesfarmers overturned,” Mr Stewart said.

“The Chamber finds it hard to understand why Wesfarmers would close the Narrabri Target store when all the indicators are showing that Narrabis is a growth centre.

“Narrabri has been identified as a site for a Bunnings store, so why would it not be an ideal centre for Target Country?

“We want to work with the mayor and with the Member for Barwon Roy Butler on having this decision reversed.

“The Chamber will be seeking a meeting with the decision makers at Wesfarmers.

“We believe this decision was made without a real understanding of what’s coming to Narrabri and its future with the resources industries as well as its underlying strength as an agricultural district. We feel this decision may have been made some time ago, perhaps in the context of the drought.

“The Chamber is extremely disappointed in what we believe is an ill conceived move.

“We believe the community can’t just accept this.

“Wesfarmers was built on the farming community of West Australia and we feel there should be a better appreciation of the foundations of the business and the importance of country towns.”

Shoppers on Saturday morning expressed disappointment that the store would shut.

Customer Heather Cunningham, on her way into the store, said she was sorry Target would close.

“People like to shop here for a whole range of items including kids clothes,” she said.

Other shoppers expressed the concern that it would mean shoppers would ‘go out of town’ for their normal Target lines.

The mayor said council had initiated actions to have the closure re-examined.

“Council has a short online petition that we urge the community to take two minutes of their time to complete.

“This petition will be provided to the managing director of Target Australia to demonstrate to the organisation how valuable this store is to the community.

“Council encourages as many people who value this store remaining open to participate,” Cr Redding said.

“We have such a wonderful future ahead of us and I have made this clear in my correspondence to the managing director of Target Australia.

“We will follow up providing them with the results of the community petition.

“The link to the petition is available on Council’s website and Facebook page. For those that do not have access to the internet, your voice can be heard by contacting Council’s Customer Service Team on 6799 6866 who will take your details.

Across NSW, other Target stores that will close include Armidale, Campbelltown, Cooma, Cootamundra, Corowa, Deniliquin, Forbes, Leeton, Merimbula, Morisset, Nowra, Salamander Bay, Scone, Wagga Wagga and Winmalee.

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