Here's a company that's traveled a fur piece from its 17th-century roots. Founded in 1670 as a fur trading enterprise, the Canadian retail conglomerate owns department stores and other retail chains north and south of the US-Canada border. At home it runs some 90 The Bay department stores that focus on more upscale merchandise, 190-plus Fields general merchandise and apparel stores in Western Canada,60-plus Home Outfitters superstores, and Hbc.com. Its Zellers chain is Canada's #2 discount department store (for now). In the US, HBC owns and operates the Lord & Taylor chain of upscale department stores. HBC also has its own credit card and financial services companies. HBC is owned by NRDC Equity Partners.
HBC acquired its affiliate Lord & Taylor in January 2012. Previously, NRDC purchased Lord & Taylor from Federated Department Stores (now Macys) for about $1.1 billion. As part of the 2012 deal, HBC invested $427 million in Lord & Taylor, which used the proceeds to retire debt. HBC brought Lord & Taylor under its control as it reconfigures its retail holdings in response to changes in the Canadian retail market.
Indeed, HBC is reducing its exposure to mass merchandising as the US's #2 discount chain Target Corp. prepares to enter Canada. To that end, it sold the leases for about 220 of its 270 Zellers discount stores to Target in 2011 for about $1.8 billion. (Target later sold about 40 leases to Wal-Mart Canada.) Also, HBC recently renovated 80 of its 90 The Bay stores to improve the shopping experience for consumers. To boost its merchandise offering, The Bay has secured the franchise rights for the UK-based Topshop and Topman chains in Canada. The Bay also has a deal with the Tommy Hilfiger Group. The sale of the Zellers' leases and purchase of Lord & Taylor indicate that HBC envisions a more upmarket future for its retail business.
When NRDC acquired HBC in 2008, the private equity firm created a holding company named Hudson's Bay Trading Company (HBTC). It formed HBTC to combine its North American retail ventures (the Lord & Taylor and the now-defunct Fortunoff chains in the US) under one roof and leverage the strengths of each retailer. It named retail veteran Jeffrey Sherman CEO of HBC and six months later elevated him to president and CEO of HBTC. Sherman, however, retired as CEO of HBC in June 2010. Chairman Richard Baker assumed the chief executive's responsibilities. HBC has no plans to replace Sherman. Indeed, under Baker's leadership HBC's flagship The Bay stores posted their first increase in same-store sales in a decade in 2010. – less