Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zeller's union fighting to the end

The unionized staff at Zellers in Brentwood Mall, the only unionized Zellers in BC, has lost its bid to be recognized by the incoming Target Corp.

Meanwhile, with the upcoming closure of Zellers underway, unconfirmed rumours of Sport Chek's entry into the space being vacated by Zellers have begun to swirl.  As we already know, the Sport Mart chain that was bought out by the parent company of Sport Chek will be shutting its doors everywhere, including the Brentwood location this March.  Sport Chek tends to have a larger retail space format and, according to the rumours,  Sport Chek would occupy one of the two floors of the Zellers space with another large retailer occupying the remaining floor.

This would confirm that Target will eventually make its entry in a new section of the future Brentwood Mall Redevelopment, most likely near the Entertainment Plaza and the current Zellers location.

Burnaby Now article on the union case below:

Target's 'Project Bacon' is a go at Brentwood

Zellers at Brentwood Centre is set to close as of March 14.
Approximately 150 store employees, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Union, were fighting to have the new owner, Target Canada, declared a successor to Zellers so that the U.S.-based retailer would be forced to honour the current collective agreement.
But in November, the Labour Relations Board of B.C. ruled against the union's application, stating in its ruling that Target and Zellers are two different types of department store retailers and that the U.S. company had purchased Zellers locations primarily for real estate.
"We're very upset," said Kim Novak, a communications representative for the union. "We're very sorry to see very hardworking people lose their jobs, essentially, when Target comes in in March - the store will be closing in March."
The union has started a web-based campaign at, to garner support for Zellers employees and encourage Target to hire them at the new locations.
Target purchased 189 leases from Zellers in 2011 as part of an expansion venture code-named "Project Bacon," according to the ruling, as well as Zellers' pharmacy files, which were sold off, and the Cherokee brand name for its U.S. market.
In regards to the Brentwood location, the ruling stated there would be a hiatus, between six months and three years, before Target opens its store at Brentwood.
"Though the employees may perform similar jobs in both stores and the transaction agreement confirmed the transfer of leases, pharmacy records and the brand waiver (for Zellers' Cherokee brand), I find those are not sufficient for me to conclude there is a discernible continuity of Zellers' business," wrote Ritu Mahil, the board's vice-chair.
"The Target brand is unique and distinctive in the retail industry," Mahil stated in the ruling. "Target presented evidence of high awareness amongst Canadian consumers for the Target brand. Dr. (Stephen) Hoch (an expert witness for Target) gave evidence that there was no likelihood of consumer confusion between Zellers and Target. Dr. Hoch further stated that it is in Target's best interests to distance itself as much as possible from Zellers."
Lisa Gibson, the communications contact for Target Canada, was not available by phone Monday before press time.
The company announced in a press release last summer that 125 Zellers locations are being turned into Target locations this year, with more locations planned for early 2014 and beyond.
Each location will close for six to nine months for renovations before reopening as a Target store, the release added, and the company is spending more than $10 million to remodel the locations.
Target plans to turn the Zellers at Metropolis at Metrotown into a Target store, as well, and has been applying for city permits to change the signage there, but neither Burnaby location is on the list of stores that Target plans to open this year.
For more business news in Burnaby, see the NOW online at


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