Hudson’s Bay Co. on Thursday named Alison Coville president of its flagship unit in Canada effective immediately. She will lead the team responsible for directing operations for its flagship and Home Outfitters units in Canada and report to CEO Jerry Storch, according to a company press release.
Coville is an 18-year company veteran and has held leadership positions in merchandising there since 2005 in almost every area of the business including women’s, accessories, cosmetics, home and men’s. She has also been instrumental in developing strategies to improve sales and profit, the company said.
She will take over leadership responsibility of Hudson’s Bay in Canada from Liz Rodbell, who has split her time between Canada and the U.S. for five years, serving both as president of Hudson’s Bay in Canada and Lord & Taylor for the past three years. Rodbell will continue as president of Lord & Taylor.
These changes reflect the department store retailer’s recent move to shore up its North America business. Key to the plan is creating two leadership teams, one focused on Hudson’s Bay (to accelerate plans to build upon its successful transformation in Canada) and the other on Lord & Taylor (to increase the pace of change there, with an emphasis on driving e-commerce and operating stores more efficiently), the company said last week.
“Within HBC’s global footprint, Canada is such an important and indelible part of our story and growth strategy. There are countless opportunities for us to continue to build on the solid platform that has been established to innovate and evolve the Hudson’s Bay experience for our customers,” HBC Governor and Executive Chairman Richard Baker said in a statement. “Alison has a deep understanding of the Hudson’s Bay customer and will help push innovation and build the Hudson’s Bay experience online and in stores to drive us to the future.”
Hudson’s Bay Co., parent of American banners Saks Fifth Avenue (plus its off-price unit, Off 5th) and Lord & Taylor, last week unveiled a "Transformation Plan for North American Operations." That includes cutting some 2,000 positions in order to create a “flatter, more nimble organization,” the result of a comprehensive review of its business operations to identify efficiencies, streamline processes and improve back of store productivity, that was first announced in February.
Hudson's Bay is a self-described "global consolidator," and has been gobbling up department store chains in North America and abroad, but now it's taking a closer look at streamlining its own operations. A year ago, the company said it would make some $750 million to $850 million in capital investments, with about 70% going to growth and 30% to maintenance. Tech investments, the company said then, would see 30% of that budget, including robot-based automation of the its Toronto distribution center and a new U.S.-based fulfillment center. About 40% was slated to remodel stores, including its Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan.
But that dedication to physical expansion and real estate investments appears now to be getting checked by the need to examine its size, explore efficiencies and give attention to its digital side. On Thursday, the company outlined plans to integrate digital functions in order to develop and maximize the impact of all-channel solutions for marketing, operations and technology. To increase efficiencies and leverage the company's scale, its IT and Digital, Store Operations & Visual Merchandising, Buying & Planning and Marketing operations will be realigned, the company also said.
The move suggests Hudson's executives may not have foreseen the current flux in physical retail, which is affecting the department store sector in particular. Moody's Investors Service has released a series of reports noting that the segment is under pressure. “The majority of retailers remain fundamentally healthy,” Moody’s Lead Retail Analyst Charlie O’Shea said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive Wednesday. “But as select groups of retailers continue to deteriorate — in particular department stores and specialty retailers — we believe the distressed ranks will keep growing, fueled in part by distinct vulnerabilities within the B2/B3 retail population.”