Tough decision, but Fields will close in the next six months

  • Feb. 8, 2012 7:00 a.m.

By Ashlee Morgan–At some point over the next six months, Fields in Masset will permanently close its doors. However, just when that will happen isn’t being released as of yet.The Masset store is one of 167 across the country that will be closing. The retail chain has offered Canadians value-priced apparel, home, grocery, and beauty products since 1948. While some communities may have shopping alternatives, many including Masset will be left with a void. Fields falls under the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) umbrella, and External Communications manager Tiffany Bourre said the decision was strategic. “The goal is to focus efforts on growing the company through its Home Outfitters, The Bay and Lord & Taylor (in the U.S.) banners. It was a very careful decision and it was a tough decision.” Ms Bourre said HBC has no plans to open the stores under another name in Masset or at any other location in Canada. “The decision is final.” News of the store closing is spreading fast and sparking debate. Community members have set up an online group called ‘Save Fields in Masset’ on Facebook. The closure also comes as a disappointment for Masset Mayor Andrew Merilees. He believes the decision affects more than just the Masset community, but also the people who drive up to shop at Fields. “It’s sad not only because of the products the store provides, but because of the full and part-time jobs that will be lost. Every job counts in this community.”More detailed information on the Masset Fields store is not available, as local representatives are not permitted to speak with the media. Ms Bourre would not disclose how many people work in Masset but said “we do offer our associates a very comprehensive career transition program and support.” Mayor Merilees doesn’t see that offer as much help in Masset. “Co-op is a good employer locally, but there isn’t a lot of other opportunity here. While the village doesn’t get involved in business, this might be a niche for something else to come into our community and fill the need.” As of 2010, Fields’ growth was reported as steady, but the company would not release any financial details.There is also some speculation that the Masset location would re-open as a Target, but there is no indication that will occur. Target, a U.S. retailer, announced in January it was buying the store leases of Canadian discount retail chain Zellers from the U.S. investor who owns HBC. Target will convert 100 to 150 Zellers locations to Target stores in 2013 and 2014 and possibly sell the rest of the current Zellers to other retailers. There is no mention of any Fields locations in the deal.HBC made the announcement in December that its 26 Ontario-based Fields locations would close in February. Last week it was announced that the remaining 141 locations were scheduled for closure in the fall of 2012. “I can’t tell you the exact date the Masset location will close, as there are no specific dates for any of the remaining closures as of yet” Ms Bourre said. Until each of the stores enters the liquidation process, it will be business as usual for customers and employees.