Hudson’s Bay opened its first doors and an e-commerce site in the Netherlands on Tuesday with a store in Amsterdam. The company said it will open nine more stores by the end of the month, starting with Rotterdam and The Hague stores also opening this week, according to a company press release.
The department stores offer a mix of international premium brands and more than 100 Dutch brands, including several limited editions developed exclusively for Hudson's Bay.
The company has also re-designed its Gilt online unit for the site’s 10th anniversary, with a relaunch that has been in the works for 18 months, the company told Retail Dive in an email. The revamp includes the addition of full-price and discounted merchandise on a much easier-to-navigate site that expands beyond Gilt’s exclusively flash-sales model.
Hudson’s Bay earlier this summer announced a re-organization plan for North America that includes cutting some 2,000 positions in order to create a “flatter, more nimble organization.”
By contrast, its move to roll out 10 stores in the Netherlands alone demonstrates a commitment to its European operations. Various deals have enabled it to gain retail footholds in premier corners of the two continents and acquire prime real estate in major metropolitan cities.
In June, the company reportedly abandoned talks to take over struggling rival Neiman Marcus, which could have exacerbated its troubles, particularly at its relatively healthy American banners, Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business, told Retail Dive earlier this year.
“[Hudson’s Bay-owned] Saks and Neiman go head to head fighting for substantially the same customer, “ he said. “So what often happens is you get formerly hyper-competitive players who continue to be hyper-competitive and are a part of the same company.”
The revamp at Gilt, meanwhile, is one of the final nails in the coffin of flash sales, an online discount sales model that once seemed promising as the economy exited the worst recession in years, but that is no longer viewed as innovative.
The essential concept behind the flash-sales idea — limited quantities, limited availability, limited price for a limited time — isn't new. Retailers from time immemorial have used scarcity as a way to push potential buyers over the edge to make the purchase. But, while they had initial success as the Great Recession ebbed, their long fulfillment times, Draconian return policies, and increasingly limited merchandise worked against many.
Gilt is addressing the pain points in the model by sweeping away the limitation and making its site easier to navigate, Jonathan Greller, president of Gilt and Saks Off 5th, said in an email to Retail Dive.
“The landscape is rapidly changing and it was so important that we listen to our customers and evolve to exceed expectations. The site used to be very overwhelming, and it wasn’t easy to tell what was a lookbook or a flash sale,” he said. “Now, customers will be able to spot editorials and enjoy an innovative shopping destination.”