US retail giant Target is set to take over 13 Zellers stores in the Maritimes, but that doesn't mean Zellers employees will become Target employees.

Target says that current Zellers employees will have to apply to work at Target stores, just like everyone else, and they won't be receiving any special considerations during the hiring process.

Employees were told not to speak with CTV News when it visited a Zellers location on Monday, but some customers spoke out on their behalf.

"I think that's unfortunate for them because now they're not sure if they would be in a job just because a new store is coming," said shopper Goldeen Sam. "I think that they should have some guarantee, especially if they were really loyal workers that have been there for a long time."

But not all shoppers were surprised to hear Target is looking for new applicants.

"I think that's only fair because as far as I know it's a totally different store," said shopper Amy Drolet.

A Target representative told CTV News they are encouraging Zellers employees to apply but the retailer is looking for the most qualified Canadians, whoever they may be.

But Business instructor Ed McHugh has another theory as to why Target isn't guaranteeing jobs for Zellers employees.

"There's probably some payroll creep in the old company, so you've got some employees been there a while, so Target's probably wanting to level the playing field and get everybody in on their pay scale, which means some people will have to come down in salary," says McHugh.

Target plans to open 125 to 135 locations across Canada, beginning in March 2013. It is still finalizing which stores it will open first, but right now it plans to start in the Toronto area. It will likely then spread to the west before it comes back east.

At least 13 of those locations will open in the Maritimes with eight slotted for Nova Scotia, four in New Brunswick and one on Prince Edward Island.

Each store will employ roughly 150 to 200 people, and while Zellers employees aren't guaranteed a spot, the company promises there will be no job transfers for current Target employees south of the border.

It says it's not offering job transfers to current Target employees because each location has a unique culture and it is looking for people who fit with that culture.

"Culture, a lot of times, is shaped by the formal policies in a company, but more importantly it's formed by the informal talk, chat between employees, and if you don't get that first buzz positive, it's very difficult to turn your culture up from a negative to a positive," explains McHugh.

The following are planned locations for Target stores:

New Brunswick

  • Saint John (2 locations)
  • Moncton
  • Fredericton

Nova Scotia

  • Dartmouth
  • Bedford
  • Amherst
  • Cole Harbour
  • Greenwood
  • Halifax
  • North Sydney
  • Sydney

Prince Edward Island

  • Charlottetown