HBC Hudson's Bay Company (Canada)

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HBC - or The Hudson's Bay Company - is one of Canada's largest retail groups, as well as North America's oldest company, tracing its roots as far back as 1670. Yet despite its unrivalled heritage in Canada and a well-established lead in upscale apparel, HBC has wrestled with exactly the same challenges experienced in the US by Sears and JC Penney - fierce competition from mass-discounters such as Walmart. Since 2008 though the group has made a strong recovery under a new owner, selling off mass-market chain Zellers (to Target ironically) and acquiring high-end store Saks Fifth Avenue to focus more directly on better-off customers. It took its first steps into Europe in 2015 with the acquisition of Germany's Galeria Kaufhof and has vowed to expand its presence dramatically in that region in 2017.

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Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Mar 2017: Canadian department store retailer Hudson's Bay Company, also owner of Saks Fifth Avenue among other brands, is in advanced talks to acquire US luxury store Neiman Marcus after months if not years of on-off speculation. The latter is struggling with $5bn of expensive debt just at a time when sales across the entire department store sector appear to have collapsed in a post-holiday season downturn, exacerbated by the switch in consumer shopping habits towards online shopping. Neiman reported losses last year of $405m on sales of around $5bn. No deal may ensue, but HBC is said to be pursuing an arrangement whereby it would take control of Neiman Marcus, which also owns New York's Bergdorf Goodman, without assuming its debt. HBC was also recently linked to talks with its much bigger US rival Macy's.

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th February 2017: Canadian department store retailer Hudson's Bay Company has made a takeover approach to its significantly larger US counterpart Macy's. Talks are ongoing but may not result in a deal. However, Macy's has been struggling with changes in consumer shopping habits and a sharp decline in traditional physical retail. There's also a management change ahead. Longtime leader Terry Lundgren has already announced plans to retire this year, to be succeeded by merchandising chief Jeff Gennette. Meanwhile HBC's executive chairman Richard Baker has built an impressive reputation as a smart operator, not least for his keen eye for undervalued real estate. Under his command, HBC expanded into the US with the acquisition of Lord & Taylor and Sak's, and into Germany with a deal for Galeria Kaufhof. If a full merger with Macy's doesn't come off, he may structure an alternative deal for some of its real estate. He is also said to have maintained communication channels with another potential target, luxury retailer Neiman Marcus.

Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Jun 2015: Canadian retail group HBC took its first steps into Europe with a deal to acquire Germany's biggest department store chain Galeria Kaufhof from Metro Group for E2.42bn. The group, which owns Canadian store Hudson's Bay Company as well as US-based Saks 5th Avenue, plans to use some of Kaufhof's current retail estate as a platform to launch the Saks brand into Germany. The European company owns 103 Kaufhof department stores and 16 Sportarena sports equipment outlets in Germany, as well as the Inno department store chain in Belgium. HBC beat off a rival bid from the owner of Germany's other major department store business Karstadt.

Adbrands Weekly Update 31st Oct 2013: Canadian retailer HBC named Michael Crotty as EVP & chief marketing officer, overseeing the Hudson's Bay and Lord & Taylor department store chains in Canada and the US. 

Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Aug 2013: Canadian retail group Hudson's Bay Company expanded its portfolio by agreeing to acquire famed US department store Saks for around $2.9bn. A rival offer from Neiman Marcus was declined by the Saks board for fear of prompting an antitrust investigation. HBC already owns another prestigious US department store, Lord & Taylor, as well as Canada's foremost upscale store The Bay. HBC plans to open at least seven Saks stores in Canada and to expand the chain's discount subsidiary Saks Off Fifth. Analysts predicted that HBC governor Richard Baker might consider a bid for Neiman Marcus as well in a couple of years.

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Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: The Hudson's Bay Company was founded in 1670 by order of King Charles II of England to trade furs with an exclusive license covering almost half of Canada. However its transformation into a retail group was masterminded by George Simpson, a ruthless and tireless entrepreneur who was appointed as governor of the business in 1821, ruling it with an iron fist for almost 40 years, and beating all competitive ventures into submission. In the early 20th century, several of the company's larger trading posts gradually evolved into department stores. It remained a British company until 1970, when it officially transferred its head office to Canada. A string of acquisitions followed as the group acquired smaller Canadian retailers, including Zellers in 1978, and it sold off what remained of its increasingly controversial fur business.

However the arrival in Canada of Wal-Mart and Target during the 1990s created serious challenges. By the mid-2000s, investors had grown impatient with the lack of improvement, and in 2005 the group was said to have begun talks to sell part or all of the business to US retailer Target. Those talks ended without agreement and in 2006 the board accepted a C$1bn bid from Jerry Zucker, an American financier based in South Carolina, to take the business private. He became CEO and governor of the group, until his sudden and untimely death just two years later. The business was acquired in 2008 by US private equity firm NRDC, whose CEO Richard Baker became governor & CEO. NRDC combined the business with Lord & Taylor department stores in the US, which it had acquired in 2006 from Macy's, as well as jewellery and home furnishings retailer Fortunoff. However, following poor trading over Christmas 2008, the latter business subsequently filed for bankruptcy and was wound up. See full profile for current activities

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