Hudson’s Bay opens shop in the Netherlands

The retailer steps outside Canada with its flagship brand in Amsterdam

Jerry Storch, chief executive officer of the Hudson’s Bay Co., addresses the company’s shareholders during its annual general in Toronto on June 3, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov.,

Hudson’s Bay Co. chief executive Jerry Storch says bringing the iconic department store brand to the Netherlands wasn’t his original plan, but feedback from local shoppers suggested the country could use more Canadiana — and a few of those Bay blankets.

When the retailer opens its doors on Tuesday in Amsterdam it marks the first time in its history that Hudson’s Bay stepped outside Canada’s borders with its flagship name. Nine more locations will canvass the region before the end of the month, with five more set to open next year.

READ MORE: Hudson’s Bay announces 2,000 layoffs

READ MORE: HBC Heritage Trail opens to the public

It’s an aggressive push into new territory, Storch acknowledges, but the opportunity to pick up attractive local space from bankrupt Dutch chain V&D was too good to ignore.

“There was a big gap in the Dutch market between a very high-end luxury player and the discount chains,” he said.

“We looked at all the markets in the country.”

Putting up signs in the Netherlands for a 347-year old Canadian business that started as a fur trading company wasn’t quite as obvious at first, he said.

Originally executives felt it made sense to simply migrate Inno, a Belgium chain they acquired two years ago, across the border assuming that consumers shared some familiarity with the brand.

However, they quickly learned that not everyone in the Netherlands favoured the idea of a neighbouring country setting up shop on its home turf.

“The Dutch people kept telling us, ‘We don’t want the Inno brand,’” Storch said.

“We couldn’t believe it. Even the guys at the hotel restaurant would tell us, ‘No, bring Hudson’s Bay here.’”

So HBC, which owns a number of other banners including Saks and Lord & Taylor, chose to make Hudson’s Bay its top priority in the region. Another two discount stores under the Saks Off 5th name will open before the end of the year.

Storch is confident that a dose of Canadian spirit to the Netherlands will be greeted with open arms.

The two countries have a number of historic connections, most notably near the end of the Second World War as the Canadian Armed Forces liberated the Dutch people.

Ottawa also sheltered the country’s Princess Juliana during the Nazi occupation, which later inspired the Netherlands to gift thousands of tulips to the nation’s capital. The tradition continues each year with the Canadian Tulip Festival.

Storch said department stores that were cherry picked from the 60 closed V&D locations will open fully renovated and stocked with items familiar to Canadians, like the famous wool blanket. More than 100 Dutch brands and a variety of national and global labels will also fill the shelves.

But Storch said the retailer won’t spend much time reflecting on the history of the Hudson’s Bay brand in Canada.

“We’re focused on how exciting and forward looking the brand is,” he said.

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Request for 7.5 acre parcel defeated Oct. 11

County of Wetaskiwin council hears proposal didn’t meet LUB, MGA

County of Wetaskiwin gravel hauling rates getting boost

Councilors vote to increase haul rate from $0.149 to $0.186 per tonne km

Wetaskiwin RCMP inspector ‘not surprised’ with Crime Severity Index

Inspector puts Maclean’s ‘Most Dangerous’ feature into perspective

UPDATED Two dead after head-on collision near Millet

UPDATED Wetaskiwin RCMP investigating, one dies at hospital

Wetaskiwin Chamber luncheon cancelled Nov. 16

Bad weather, icy roads mean benefits talk rescheduled for January

VIDEO: Shoppers like self-checkout lanes at the grocery store, survey suggests

Grocery Experience National Survey Report suggests most grocery shoppers spend 32 minutes per visit

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

Ponoka’s Caleb Shimwell arrested after pursuit

Police allege that Shimwell rammed a police cruiser

731,000 Canadians going into debt to buy prescription drugs: UBC

Millennials and those without private coverage were more likely to borrow money

Pot users, investors need to be vigilant at Canada-U.S. border

U.S. authorities say anyone who admits to having used pot before it became legal could be barred

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

Most Read