HBC, owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson's Bay, Lord & Taylor and Saks Off 5TH, announced on Friday that it would close its 15 Hudson's Bay stores, e-commerce site and headquarters in the Netherlands by Dec. 31, according to a company press release. The company doesn't anticipate that the closures will affect its Hudson's Bay operations in Canada.
Hudson's Bay Netherlands is co-owned by SIGNA Retail Holdings and HBC. Once the transaction is complete sometime this fall, Hudson's Bay Netherlands will transfer entirely to HBC as part of the company's divestment agreement.
HBC's statement also noted that the company has worked out a plan with the country's local unions to provide solutions for workers left jobless as a result of the closure.
When asked last month about any plans to leave the Netherlands, investor relations chief Jennifer Bewley told analysts that the business was under review but that stores could close before HBC regained 100% ownership. She noted that the company's biggest liability in the Netherlands was from its leases, where annual rent totals $75 million, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. The company was under 10-year lease guarantees, and was only on year two of those guarantees, she said then.
This announcement marks HBC's latest round of closures. Back in February, the company ceased its Home Outfitters operations in Canada and was reviewing 133 Saks Off 5TH's stores. In August, Le Toted acquired the Lord & Taylor brand, along with its related intellectual property, 38 stores, digital channels and inventory; in exchange, HBC negotiated an equity stake in Le Tote and two board member seats.
It's also worth noting that the retailer has endured changes in leadership. Alison Coville, the retailer's former president, left the company in March. Meanwhile, shareholders at the company pushed back against pay packages, reportedly $29.4 million, for HBC's CEO Helena Foulkes.
More recently, the company has faced some financial shakeups. Earlier this month, the company reported quarterly revenues fell to 1.85 billion Canadian dollar ($140 billion) from CA$1.859 billion in the year-ago period. Moreover, last month, Catalyst Capital Group, a Canadian private equity firm, boosted its stake in the company to nearly 16% just weeks after accumulating roughly 10% of HBC shares for 187 million Canadian dollars. Catalyst and investment firm Land & Buildings have both argued that a take-private bid from a group led by HBC Gov. Richard Baker is inadequate.