28 May 2020
Bega Valley Shire Mayor Sharon Tapscott has voiced her disappointment about the Target Country closures announced late last week, a move which directly impacts the Merimbula and Bega stores.
“It is particularly upsetting to hear this news after we’ve been through so much trauma over the past few months and really, over the past few years,” Ms Tapscott said.
“We’ve been through drought, devastating bushfires, floods, COVID-19 and now we’re hit with this.
“We’ve got a large number of unemployed residents and others have had their work hours reduced because of the COVID-19 shutdown.”
Ms Tapscott was thankful that Bega’s Target Country would be rebranded as Kmart but said the complete closure of the Merimbula store was a huge setback to the community.
“The redeployment of staff from Target to Kmart will provide some relief to Bega staff, but where does that leave Merimbula’s staff?” she said.
Target Country Merimbula will close early to mid-2021 and Bega Target will be rebranded Kmart in the same timeframe.
However, at this stage it is unknown whether Bega Target will be converted to a smaller-format Kmart and remain in its current Gipps Street location.
“Target’s owner, Wesfarmers has publicly stated it will work with other employers in the affected rural communities to find opportunities for retrenched staff and provide access to support services and entitlements,” Cr Tapscott said.
“In the meantime, Council is supporting local businesses through the development of marketing strategies, providing free training through the Bega Valley Innovation Hub and free one-on-one business support by local business experts, and sourcing relevant funding from state and federal governments.”