RETAIL giant Wesfarmers has confirmed the decision to close its Narrabri Target Country store will not be overturned, despite a community petition led by Narrabri Shire Council.
The council launched the petition after the company announced last week its Narrabri outlet was one of 50 stores slated for closure next year.
However, a Target spokesperson told the Leader the company's decision to close the store would not be overturned.
"We informed our team at our Narrabri store last Friday and reached out to a number of stakeholders in town, including the mayor, immediately following this announcement to the team," the spokesperson said.
"The decision to close our Narrabri store was not one we made lightly, however, we can confirm that this is a final decision.
"Our focus now is on supporting our 14 team members and securing redeployment opportunities for them.
"We're committed to doing what we can to support the team through to the store closure next year."
A Narrabri Shire Council spokesperson said the council was disappointed with the company's decision to cease trading in Narrabri.
"These types of decisions tear at the fabric of local communities, especially even more so after the negative effects of a multi-year drought and the current COVID-19 pandemic," the spokesperson said.
"Council is continuing to gather support for the petition with over 1200 responses received so far.
"This information will be in addition to correspondence council has already put forward to Target Australia regarding pertinent economic information from a regional level that they may not have considered regarding the economic diversification and growth opportunities associated with the Narrabri Shire."
The spokesperson said there was plenty of reasons for Wesfarmers to keep their store open.
"They need to be made aware of the infrastructure and economic diversification boom that will begin hitting the Narrabri shire later in 2020 as a number of the 11 large scale development projects begin construction," the spokesperson said.
"The capital expenditure injection is in the vicinity of $7.5 billion.
"Narrabri shire has a strong retail sector coming in with the fourth largest retail trade numbers in the northwest of NSW after Tamworth, Armidale and Inverell.
"These are strong points and we will ensure Wesfarmers are cognisant of these factors before Council pursue other alternatives to meet the needs of the community."
The council's commitment to keeping the Narrabri store open has inspired Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen to launch a petition to help save the Scone Target outlet from closure.
"In Upper Hunter, our Scone store is set to close in early to mid 2021 and this is a real kick in the face to a dedicated and supportive community," Mr Johnsen said.
"This is something that will sadly be repeated across country NSW.
"A webpage has been set up where anyone can go and register their disappointment with Wesfarmers and with Target.
"As with many things, if government works together with communities, we can achieve a lot.
"We can save jobs and keep businesses operating locally."