HBC to close some Lord & Taylor stores and sell Gilt.com amid disappointing results

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Hudson's Bay Co.

TORONTO — The new chief executive officer of Hudson’s Bay Co. vowed to turn around the lagging parts of the retailer’s business Tuesday after announcing the sale of its deals site Gilt.com and the pending closure of up to 10 struggling Lord & Taylor stores.

And Helena Foulkes, who took the helm in February, didn’t mince words when it came to her assessment of how the department store retailer had conducted business under its erstwhile management team.

“Across all of our businesses, I have found that we tend to make decisions without involving one of our key stakeholders: the customer,” Foulkes told industry analysts on a conference call Tuesday after HBC posted disappointing first-quarter results, including a wider than expected loss and declining sales performance in its European and off-price divisions. Foulkes said she will work with HBC’s slate of newly minted executives in technology, marketing and at Lord & Taylor and act quickly to improve results.

The company’s shares, down 12 per cent this year, were down 1.6 per cent in afternoon trading Tuesday.

Amid disappointing returns and a flurry of management-level exits in the last year, HBC has been under pressure from activist investor Jonathan Litt of Land & Buildings Investment Management to privatize the business or sell off more of its real estate portfolio. HBC said Tuesday that it is continuing ongoing discussions for the sale and leaseback of its Vancouver store, and the retail operator struck a $1 billion deal last fall in a joint venture that included WeWork Cos. for its Lord & Taylor flagship location in New York to house the company’s headquarters and shared office spaces.

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