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

Line break shuts off agriculture water in Black Mountain

BMID says no outdoor watering allowed until repair to line is complete

Young boy struck by car in West Kelowna

Boy, believed to be aged 6, treated at the scene by paramedics

Kelowna’s Pandosy Village Business Association looks to attract shoppers

Merchants to hold their annual Love Our Village Day promotional event Saturday

Updated: Kelowna cops investigating a serious hit and run Friday afternoon

Police say BMW driver fled the scene after a pedestrian was seriously injured on Rutland Road North

Bears are back and they’re hungry

WildSafeBC wants to reduce wildlife conflicts in West Kelowna/Peachland

What’s happening

Follow Social Squad memeber Matthew Abrey to find out what’s happeing this weekend

Trump sends letter to Trudeau calling for increase in NATO defence spending

The letter comes as tensions between Canada and the United States have risen to a dramatic high

Horse put down, 1 person in hospital after hit by car in Lower Mainland

Accident along 132nd Avenue in Maple Ridge Friday afternoon

Electoral reform vote in B.C. includes $500,000 each for pro and con groups

A mail-in ballot referendum will take place Oct. 22 to Nov. 30, asking two questions on voting

83-year-old inmate dies at medium-security prison in Mission

Correctional Services Canada says Ralph Whitfield Morris died in custody

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna suspended for 75 games

23-year-old pitcher faces assault charge

Vancouver Canucks tab Quinn Hughes with No. 7 overall pick in NHL draft

University of Michigan standout was second defenceman picked in first round

Gun, drugs and cash seized in arrest of alleged B.C. fentanyl dealer

Vancouver Island man Brent Connors is facing nine charges in relation to investigation

Jogger spent two weeks in U.S. detention centre after accidentally crossing B.C. border

Cedella Roman, 19, crossed the border while out for a run

Most Read