Hudson's Bay to close 15 Dutch stores and lay off 1,400 employees: report

Front View Hudson's Bay At The Rokin Amsterdam The Netherlands 2019 (Getty Images)

Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) will close its 15 department stores located in the Netherlands and lay off around 1,400 employees as it shrinks its European operations, Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported last weekend.

According to the report, which cites a confidential letter from HBC, the retailer has decided to shutter its stores in the Netherlands by the end of the year due to what it called a “long-term financially untenable situation.” The newspaper reported that 1,424 employees at 15 stores will be laid off.

CNV Vakmensen, one of the unions representing Hudson’s Bay employees, said in a statement that the decision was “hardly a surprise” but still “a very bitter end.”

HBC opened its first Hudson’s Bay location in Amsterdam just two years ago, a move that was part of a broader expansion into Europe that the retailer has since retreated from.

Earlier this year, HBC announced that it would sell its remaining 49.9 per cent stake of a real estate joint venture in Germany, signalling a desire to exit from its European operations and focus more on the North American market.

HBC chief executive Helena Foulkes said on a quarterly conference call in June that the sale of its German joint venture was in part due to challenges of operating within a 50-50 ownership structure.

“But mostly, it allows us to focus on North America. We always said that was our endgame and our goal,” Foulkes told analysts.

Wereldhave, a Dutch company that rents one of its properties to Hudson’s Bay, said in a statement released Monday that it had not received information from Hudson’s Bay about it terminating its rental contract, which is set to expire in 2037. The company said it has already began exploring several scenarios for the property, as Hudson’s Bay had previously indicated it planned on focusing more on the North American market.

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