05/26/2011 03:19 EDT | Updated 07/26/2011 05:12 EDT

Target Canada Locations: Retailer Picks 105 Zellers To Convert

(CP) - Target Corp. put its big red bulls-eye on the first 105 Zellers locations -- including stores in every province -- that it plans to take over with an eye to converting them into Target stores.

The U.S. department store retailer said Thursday the "vast majority" of the locations will become Target stores and begin opening in 2013 after extensive renovations.

"We are thrilled to share these first details about our planned entry into Canada," Target Canada president Tony Fisher said in a statement.

"We are excited that these initial store sites ensure Target will be represented throughout the country."

Target said the chosen locations will continue to operate as Zellers stores before closing for six to nine months and reopening as Target stores after some significant remodelling.

Zellers locations that Target acquires, but does not convert to its banner, will be leased back to Zellers or potentially other retailers.

Target, a 109-year old American retailer that was part of Dayton-Hudson Corp. before changing its name in 2000, is one of the biggest U.S. department store chains, with revenues of more than US$67 billion in its last fiscal year.

The company has more than 355,000 employees and is the second-biggest discount retailer in the U.S. after Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Target is expanding to Canada in a similar way Wal-Mart did in 1994, after the world's biggest retailer bought the chain of Woolco department stores in Canada, refurbished them and renamed them Wal-Mart Canada.

The F.W. Woolworth Co. started the Woolco chain in the early 1960s in Columbus, Ohio and expanded it to hundreds of stores in North America and the United Kingdom. The stores went bankrupt in the United States and Britain in the 1980s but kept active in Canada until they were sold in 1994.

The list announced by Target on Thursday includes sites owned by some 22 property owners and landlords with whom Target has reached lease agreements.

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:REI.UN), one of Canada's largest retail landlords, said 21 of its 34 locations with Zellers stores were on the initial list.

"This transaction highlights the intrinsic value in our portfolio, and will bring tremendous potential for repositioning and the opportunity to further enhance value and cash flow growth in our centres," RioCan president and chief executive Edward Sonshine said in a statement.

Primaris Retail Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:PMZ.UN) owns five locations, while Homburg Canada Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:HCR.UN) owns three spots in Quebec. Morguard (TSX:MRC) and Morguard Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:MRT.UN) own 12 of the locations.

Ivanhoe Cambridge, the real estate arm of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, owns 14 locations, while Cadillac Fairview, the real estate investment arm of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, owns seven locations.

Target said it hopes to finalize the acquisition of the sites quickly and pay the first half of the $1.825 billion it agreed to for the locations.

Under the deal signed earlier this year to take over up to 220 Zellers locations from the Hudson's Bay Co. Target said Thursday it will continue to select additional locations before it makes a second payment in the fall.

Hudson's Bay has 279 Zellers locations. Stores that Target does not want could be sold to other retail giants like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) or could remain in the hands of the Bay.

Target also announced it will establish a Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, Ont., just west of Toronto. The retailer has signed a deal for 180,000 square-feet of office space that will be occupied in early 2012 after some remodelling.

Target said it plans to spend about $10 million on each store to renovate and remodel the location before opening.

Each store in Canada is expected to employ 150 to 200 people.

Target, based in Minneapolis, has 1,755 stores in 49 states.