Hudson’s Bay Chairman Takes Back CEO Job as Jerry Storch Leaves

Updated on
  • Current chief had joined retailer less than three years ago
  • Company has suffered deeper losses, job cuts and slow sales

Richard Baker and Jerry Storch

Photographer: Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/AFP via Getty Images

Hudson’s Bay Co. Executive Chairman Richard Baker is back in charge of the struggling department-store chain.

The 51-year-old will retake the chief executive officer job on Nov. 1 as Jerry Storch steps down from the helm. The company, which owns the Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor brands, has hired an executive-search firm to find a new permanent CEO.

Storch, who previously ran Toys “R” Us Inc., had a tumultuous stint at HBC. The retailer has been cutting thousands of jobs as it copes with an industrywide slump for department stores. In September, HBC posted a deeper-than-expected loss for the latest quarter and declining same-store sales.

Baker, 51, is one of HBC’s biggest shareholders, with a roughly 6 percent stake. He served as the Toronto-based company’s CEO until Storch took over in January 2015. HBC, which has its roots in fur trading, was founded in 1670, making it North America’s longest continually operated business.

“Right now, our entire team in North America and Europe is focused on delivering a strong holiday season and best serving our customers,” Baker said in a statement.

Shares of HBC have fallen 9.3 percent so far in 2017, following two previous years of declines. They rose less than 1 percent to C$11.96 in Toronto trading on Friday.

Storch, 60, is leaving to return to his consulting firm, Storch Advisors. HBC also lost its chief financial officer this year. Paul Beesley resigned in July and was replaced the following month by Edward Record, who came from J.C. Penney Co.

In June, HBC announced the elimination of 2,000 jobs. The company also is working to centralize its digital and marketing operations.

Gilt Deal

HBC took other steps to modernize the chain under Storch, who previously worked at Target Corp. Last year, it agreed to acquire e-commerce upstart Gilt Groupe Holdings Inc. for about $250 million in cash. The department-store chain integrated the online business into its Saks Off 5th division.

But some investors have grown restless with the company’s turnaround efforts. Land & Buildings Investment Management, which disclosed in June that it owned 4.3 percent of HBC, has pushed for the company to sell Saks and possibly go private in a management-led buyout.

A take-private deal pursued by Nordstrom Inc. foundered earlier this week, suggesting that such a transaction may be difficult to finance.

— With assistance by Sandrine Rastello

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