Former Target store in Chilliwack will become a Rona

"We're very happy to be moving into a new location," Rona executive vice-president Luc Rodier told The Progress.

Rona's new location in the former Target site at Cottonwood Mall will offer 90

Rona's new location in the former Target site at Cottonwood Mall will offer 90

Rona is set to take over the former Target location in Cottonwood Mall.

The existing Rona will be pulling up stakes and relocating next year to the south side of Chilliwack.

“We’re very happy to be moving into a new location,” Rona executive vice-president Luc Rodier told The Progress in a phone interview from Quebec on Wednesday.

The smaller existing store, while in a prime location on Yale Road near Airport Road, had some challenges, such as “water management” issues, Rodier said.

“We’d been looking to revamp the Chilliwack location for quite a while.”

That is why the home improvement retailer started looking for alternatives.

“To better serve the community, we needed a bigger store,” he said.

The most efficient way to do that, they decided was to relocate. There is still some paper work left, but by the end of May, everything should be finalized, Rodier confirmed.

As soon as they can, they’ll start work at the new site, while keeping the old store open.

“When the Target site became available, we thought it was a very solid option with a good location,” Rodier said.

The lease at the current site comes up for renewal at the end of 2016.

“So we just won’t renew,” he added.

The current Rona employs a staff of 41.

A much larger store means even more staff can be hired, and a bigger assortment of retail items will be offered to customers.

“So it’s good news for the whole region,” he added.

The new sprawling site at the mall measures about 90,000 square feet, compared to the indoor space at the current site which is under 10,000 square feet. They’ve been making do with the two-acre outdoor lumber yard as “an extension” of the limited indoor retail space, along with a 12,000 square foot warehouse and another 5,000 of covered yard space.

“So the entire store, including the hardware portion and the lumber, will be under one roof,” he said. “It will be way more convenient for customers.”

Rona won its bid to take over the former Target location through an auction process, and expect to open the new store in early 2016. The news about the Chilliwack Rona was announced in a nation-wide teleconference this week to share first quarter financial results for 2015.

The Chilliwack location was in fact the only successful bid of six in total that they were vying for to take over former Target sites.

“It is the only bid that we have won, but that does not mean it’s the only one we’ll get,” said Rodier.

The Quebec-based Rona has 513 locations across Canada. Rona saw higher sales posted in the typically slower first quarter of 2015, with increased revenue of 1.9 per cent over last year for a total of $778.8 million.

Asked if they have any other retail sites with shopping mall access, the answer was affirmative.

“Yes, across the country we have several locations attached to a mall. We just need to be located at one extreme end of the mall, or the other,” Rodier replied. “We don’t mind mall access.”

There are another 50 sites still on the table, and Rona reps are still looking. Lowe’s and Canadian Tire have also been picking up former Target stores.

“But we’re being very selective in this process, and we want to be successful if we’re to transfer into a new market.

“If the local economy looks feasible, we’ll take a closer look,” said Rodier.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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