Steph Cooke speaks in to two media microphones at a press conference.
Steph Cooke MP at a media in an outfit from Target Cootamundra.

I am deeply disappointed at the announcement from Wesfarmers that it will close up to 75 Target stores, including 50 Target Country stores around the country.

I have written to the Managing Director of Wesfarmers Limited Rob Scott to strongly urge him to continue to operate their Cowra and Cootamundra locations, which are the only two remaining Target stores in the Cootamundra electorate.

These two retail outlets are vital for both communities and I hold serious concerns for them should their Target stores be closed.

Target is the only shop in both Cootamundra and Cowra that provides affordable clothing for the whole family, there are no other stores in town that simultaneously cater to women, men and children.

In recent times Wesfarmers closed Target stores in Temora and Young.

The impact of these closures was significant on these communities.

Many retail employees lost their jobs. Customers, a large number of them elderly

and vulnerable, have been unable to purchase basics such as towels and sheets locally, with the nearest stores close to 100km away.

The buildings these retailers occupied remain empty – demoralising for the wider community.

The NSW Government, has worked hard with local governments to stimulate economic activity and growth during this crippling drought and protect businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019 I announced a significant NSW Government grant of $1,300,000 for the Cowra Shire Council to undertake upgrades which included a new carpark behind the building occupied by Target, as part of the $170m drought stimulus package.

The NSW Central West, of which Cowra is one of the largest towns, has been hit very hard by drought, and more recently, by COVID-19.

I have strongly urged Mr Scott to protect local jobs and continue to operate from their Cootamundra and Cowra locations, enabling these stores to continue to be a key contributor to the local economy and retail sector.