By Nicole Maestri
NEW YORK Oct 18 Target Corp. (TGT.N) is aiming to open stores in Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont, a company executive said, a move that will put the discount retailer in all 50 United States.
As of Oct. 14, Target had 1,591 stores in 47 states -- but none in Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont.
Target's Senior Vice President of real estate, Scott Nelson, said in an interview this week that construction is underway for a Target store in Alaska, and the retailer is trying to find the right location to open a store in Vermont.
"Vermont, from a population standpoint, is not a real large state and clearly there is an increased sensitivity to store placement in Vermont," he said.
"We're just trying to look and see how we match up Target with the community needs. We're working on it."
In Hawaii, Target has plans to open a store on the island of Oahu, he said, but it has interest in putting stores on all the major Hawaiian islands. Target will also be gaining a presence on a different island -- Manhattan.
Target has signed a lease for store space in the East River Plaza, a new construction project in East Harlem, which is currently slated to open in the spring of 2009. The store will be Target's first in Manhattan, and adds Target to a growing list of big box retailers, like Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) and Home Depot (HD.N), that have found ways in recent years to enter the Manhattan market.
Rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) has yet to gain a foothold in New York City, meeting resistance from labor unions, anti-sprawl groups and environmentalists who contend the retailer pushes out its competitors and drives down wages.
While Target's Nelson said Target could put a number of stores in Manhattan, it has yet to find a location in Midtown that would deliver an appropriate return for its shareholders.
"We have looked at quite a number of opportunities in scanning through there, but have yet to find something in Midtown that meets our criteria," he said.
But he added: "Clearly, the New York guest likes Target and we like New York."
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((Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Derek Caney; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org; (646) 223-6173)) Keywords: TARGET REALESTATE/
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