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

Annual Heritage Day celebration highlights Terrace history, culture

Over 30 vendors displayed various vintage and historic items from the city’s past on Feb.17 in the Sportsplex Banquet Room.

Terrace River Kings win playoffs

Defeating Williams Lake Stampeders, the team now heads to the Coy Cup for the fourth year in a row

First annual Valentines Day Memorial Walk to honor missing and murdered Indigenous people held in Terrace

Mayor Carol Leclerc and RCMP Cst. Angela Rabut joined members of the Radek family and walkers on Feb. 14 from the Chill Soda Shop on Highway 16 to the Tempo Gas Station.

Most Highway 16 closures for avalanches in years after multiple dumps of snow

Highway 16 has had four closures between Terrace and Prince Rupert due to 35 mile avalanche area

Thrilling finish to 59th All Native Tournament

Kitamaat, Hydaburg, Port Simpson and Kitkatla win championships in 2018 All Native Tournament

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

SAR suspends search for missing man at Sun Peaks

RCMP will continue to search for a missing man near Kamloops but SAR has suspended their role

Lottery will help save children’s lives

Each ticket gets you a chance to win a lot of money, while helping a lot of kids

B.C. RCMP officer officially cleared in car wash shooting incident

A report found the Salmon Arm officer fired 14 bullets at the man’s truck

Interest in Canadian Armed Forces remains high

Canada seeks about 5,000 recruits each year for its regular forces of about 68,000

Rules reviewed to keep drug money out of B.C. real estate

Investigator looking at loans as well as casinos, David Eby says

VIDEO: B.C. deer caught obeying traffic signs

A herd of deer in Fernie, B.C. is getting attention online after stopping for a stop sign

Petition wants fundraiser dropped for family of man cleared in Boushie’s death

Group says GoFundMe is profiting from the young Indigenous man’s death

Most Read