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

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official kick-off of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

Alix resident captures beams of light near Lacombe

Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer photos have since gone viral around the world

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Team Alberta takes exciting victory in wheelchair basketball, remains undefeated

After three games in the tournament, Alberta is sitting in first place of its pool

UPDATED: ‘Violent’ B.C. man back in custody after Alberta arrest

Prince George man with ties to Vernon was being sought by police

After a week away, SNC-Lavalin questions await MPs returning to Parliament

Two have resigned already: Jody Wilson-Raybould was veterans affairs minister and Gerald Butts was Trudeau’s principal secretary

Chanel: Iconic couturier Karl Lagerfeld has died

He spent virtually his entire career at luxury labels catering to the very wealthy

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Body found after apparent house explosion in Calgary, police investigating

Sgt. Dwayne Lepchuk declined to say whose remains were found

Most Read