HBC Hudson's Bay Company : advertising & marketing profile

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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 and more recently from online giant Amazon. 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. The following year, Kaufhof merged with main German rival Karstadt; HBC retained a 50% stake in the combined business, but will transfer that interest to its partner by the end of 2019.

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Hudson's Bay Saks Fifth Avenue
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Adbrands Daily Update 28th Aug 2019: HBC offloaded its hard-pressed Lord & Taylor department store business in the US to Le Tote, a clothing rental service founded only seven years ago. The sale price is around $75m upfront, with another $33m payable in 2021. HBC gets a minority stake in Le Tote as well as two seats on the board; it also retains the ownership or leases of Lord & Taylor's 38 physical stores, and will be responsible for future rent. However, Le Tote takes over all operations. It's an astonishingly bold move by the virtual start-up, which allows customers to rent apparel and accessories in return for a flat subscription fee starting at $79 per month.

Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jun 2019: HBC made an about-face on its operations in Europe with an agreement to sell its 50% shareholding in Kaufhof Karstadt to partner Signa, bringing an end to the Canadian retailer's presence in Germany. Deal price is $1.5bn, or €1bn. However HBC will retain ownership of stores in the Netherlands pending further restructuring. At the same time, executive chairman Richard Baker and a consortium of other shareholders and investors have presented an offer to take HBC itself private for around $1.6bn, a premium of around 50% above the group's undisturbed valuation.

Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Sep 2018: Canadian retailer HBC has been slowly but steadily expanding its presence in Europe following the acquisition of German chain Galeria Kaufhof three years ago. For the most part, it has been developing brands that were already present in the region, like Saks; but it took a big gamble on the Netherlands by transplanting its core domestic brand Hudson's Bay. It's not been the smoothest of projects, and the group recently sought assistance from German rival Karstadt by merging its local operations in Europe into a new joint venture. However this new spot from local powerhouse TBWA\Neboko is a charmer. But will it be enough to reignite the store's performance in Holland?

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Jul 2018: Germany's two main department store chains Karstadt and Galeria Kaufhof look set to merge in a new joint venture that will be co-owned by Austrian retail and real estate investor Signa Group - current owner of Karstadt - and Canada's HBC, which acquired Kaufhof in 2015. A merger of the two competing businesses has been under consideration for more than a decade. Signa offered to acquire Kaufhof last year for €3bn, but the deal was rejected by HBC. Now the two companies are in talks to pool ownership, with Signa taking management control and just over 50% of equity.

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Apr 2018: Saks 5th Avenue and Lord & Taylor, the two US department stores owned by Canadian group Hudson's Bay Company, has suffered a massive data breach in which credit and debut card details for around 5m customers were stolen. The theft only appears to have come to light when first batch of data was offered for sale on the dark web by hackers and was spotted by cybersecurity firm Gemini Advisory. HBC said they have identified the issue, and have taken steps to contain it.

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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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