Hudson's Bay (department store)

Freimans Hudson's Bay Company Morgan's

Hudson's Bay
la Baie d'Hudson
  • Hudson's Bay Company (1881–1965)
  • The Bay (1965–2013)
  • 2 May 1670; 350 years ago (1670-05-02) (Hudson's Bay Company)
  • 1881; 139 years ago (1881) (first department store)
Headquarters8925 Torbram Road, ,
Number of locations
Area served
  • Clothing
  • footwear
  • bedding
  • furniture
  • jewellery
  • beauty products
  • electronics
  • housewares
ParentHudson's Bay Company
Footnotes / references

Hudson's Bay (French: la Baie d'Hudson), formerly and still colloquially The Bay (French: la Baie), is a Canadian department store chain. It is the main brand of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), the oldest company in North America.[5][6]

Founded on May 2, 1670, the Hudson's Bay Company opened its first department store in 1881 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The chain operated under the company name before being rebranded to The Bay in 1965. It historically operated exclusively in Western Canada until the acquisitions and conversions of department stores Morgan's, Freimans, Simpsons, Woodward's, coupled with the opening of new locations, positioned its presence nationwide in the second half of the 20th century. After nearly 50 years with The Bay brand, the chain was rebranded to Hudson's Bay with a modernized logo in 2013.

As of May 2020, Hudson's Bay operates 89 locations in seven Canadian provinces. It previously operated in the Netherlands, in partnership with Austrian real estate company Signa Holding, from 2017–2019. The full-line department stores focus on high-end fashion apparel, accessories, and home goods; flagship stores carry a bigger range and selection of goods than typical locations. The flagship stores are often multi-storey, historic buildings and are located in Canada's largest cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton and Winnipeg). The largest of the flagship stores is the Toronto store on Queen Street, at about 79,000 square metres (850,000 sq ft).[7]


Early history

Mall entrance of The Bay (with Hudson's Bay Company branding) at the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta (2005)

The diversification of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) became necessary with the decline of fur trade in the latter half of the 19th century, and the Deed of Surrender in which ownership of the North-Western Territory and Rupert's Land was transferred from HBC to the newly-established country of Canada in 1870.[8] The first Hudson's Bay Company store opened in 1881 in Winnipeg, Manitoba with an inventory consisting of dry goods, groceries, and hardware.[9] HBC reorganized into fur trade, lands sales, and retail divisions in 1910;[10] with the guidance of a director from the British department store Harrods, they began construction of full-line department stores in 1913.[11] This "modernization program" resulted the "original six" department stores in Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta; Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia; Winnipeg in Manitoba; and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan.[12]

Hudson's Bay Company entered the provinces of Ontario and Quebec with its acquisition of the Montreal-based Morgan's department store chain in 1960; that year, only the Morgan's stores in Ontario were converted to Hudson's Bay Company stores.[13]

Following renaming to The Bay

Exterior of the Hudson's Bay store at the Fairview Mall in Toronto, Ontario (2014)

Hudson's Bay Company stores were renamed The Bay (which was already a popular nickname) in 1965, while the Morgan's stores in Quebec were renamed La Baie in 1972.[14][15][16] That same year, Hudson's Bay purchased Ottawa's Freimans department store and moved from the former Morgan's building on Sparks Street to the Freiman building on Rideau Street, closer to competing Ogilvy's and Caplan's.

The Bay further expanded its presence between 1989 and 1991 in Eastern Canada by absorbing the Simpsons department store chain, and 1993 in Western Canada by taking over many former Woodward's outlets.[17] The Toronto Queen Street flagship store was previously a Simpsons department store. In 1991, Hudson's Bay Company stopped selling fur.[18] In 1997 the company reopened its fur salons, including a wider assortment of high-end designer furs. Fur salons included many exclusive fur designers, including Louis Féraud, Givenchy, Black Diamond Mink, and Grosvenor.

On 16 July 2008, it was announced that Hudson's Bay Company had been purchased by the US firm NRDC Equity Partners, which owned Lord & Taylor and Fortunoff.[19]

In August 2008, Bonnie Brooks was hired as president and chief executive officer of the Hudson's Bay Company.[20] As the result of market research, Brooks began to focus on bolstering high-end fashion as a growth segment. These moves included a major revamp of the chain's selection of labels, and a renovation and relaunch of The Room—a luxury women's department at the Queen Street location. During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, a heritage-oriented campaign was used to promote The Bay and an accompanying line of Olympic-themed apparel, which was considered to be a significant success.[21][22] In 2010, the Queen Street location saw a 22% increase in year-over-year sales. In 2011, The Bay launched White Space—a new younger-skewing "contemporary" department—at selected locations.[23][24]

Following renaming to Hudson's Bay

Mall entrance of the store at CF Markville in Markham, Ontario before (left) and after (right) rebranding

Hudson's Bay Company announced alongside its initial public offering that The Bay stores would be renamed to Hudson's Bay beginning in October 2012;[25] The new Hudson's Bay rebranding campaign was officially launched on March 6, 2013.[26]

On August 31, 2019, the company announced that all 15 of its Dutch locations would close by year end, the final chapter of HBC's "ill-fated European venture", according to Bloomberg News. Until as recently as March 2019, Hudson's Bay was opening new stores in the country.[27][28] On November 28, 2019, Hudson's Bay announced that it had filed for a suspension of payments in the Netherlands.[29]

Hudson's Bay stores were temporarily closed beginning on March 17, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[30] The stores began gradually reopening on May 19.[31]

Flagship stores

Hudson's Bay operates seven flagship stores in five provinces. The largest of the five, the Toronto store building on the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Queen Street West, was converted from Simpsons in 1991. It currently occupies 79,000 square metres (850,000 sq ft), while 14,000 square metres (150,000 sq ft) of previously-occupied space was converted to the Canadian Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store in 2016. Hudson's Bay Company sold the building to Cadillac Fairview, which owns the adjacent Toronto Eaton Centre, in 2014 and entered into a leaseback agreement through at least 2039. Conversely, the Ottawa store on Rideau Street occupies 31,100 square metres (335,000 sq ft) and is the smallest flagship that remains in a landmark building; it was converted from Freimans in 1973.

Both flagship stores in the Canadian Prairies were announced to be closing permanently in the aftermath of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.[31] The 1926-built Winnipeg store on Portage Avenue was valued $0 by Cushman & Wakefield in 2019, citing the existence of nearby, newer commercial real estate properties.[32] The Edmonton store on Jasper Avenue was built in 1939 on land that had been occupied by Hudson's Bay Company since 1893.[33] It closed in 1995, two years after another The Bay store opened as an anchor tenant of the Edmonton City Centre. The latter eventually relocated to the former Eaton's store of the same shopping mall in 2002.[34] Consequently, at 15,600 square metres (168,000 sq ft), it is the smallest Hudson's Bay flagship.[35]

HBC stated that it was exploring the option of a leaseback agreement for the 1927-built Vancouver store in 2017, which has yet to materialize.[36]

List of Hudson's Bay flagship stores
Province City Name Size Year
Alberta Calgary Hudson's Bay Calgary Downtown 42,000 m2 (450,000 sq ft)[37] 1913 N/A
Edmonton Hudson's Bay Edmonton City Centre 15,600 m2 (168,000 sq ft)[35] 2002 N/A Converted from Woodward's and relocated to former Eaton's space
British Columbia Vancouver Hudson's Bay Vancouver 59,200 m2 (637,000 sq ft)[37] 1927 N/A
Manitoba Winnipeg Hudson's Bay Winnipeg Downtown 60,900 m2 (656,000 sq ft)[37] 1926 N/A
Ontario Ottawa Hudson's Bay Ottawa Rideau 31,100 m2 (335,000 sq ft)[37] 1973 N/A Converted from Freimans
Toronto Hudson's Bay Queen Street 79,000 m2 (850,000 sq ft)[37] 1991 N/A Converted from Simpsons
Quebec Montreal La Baie d'Hudson Montréal Centre-Ville 60,900 m2 (655,000 sq ft)[37] 1972 N/A Converted from Morgan's

Store format

The Room and West End Shop

The Room is a luxury boutique found in selected Hudson's Bay locations, which features a curated selection of women's apparel from upscale brands such as Balmain, Emmanuel Ungaro, Halston, Gianfranco Ferre, Giorgio Armani, Moschino, and others.[38] Nicholas Mellamphy is the vice-president and buying director of The Room.[39] Its namesake at the Yonge & Queen location in Toronto was established in the 1930s as the St. Regis Room, dating back to its time as a Simpsons store. It underwent a major renovation in 2009 by the design firm Yabu Pushelberg, with an increase to 2,000 square metres (21,500 sq ft) in floor space, and expanding its stock from around 12 brands to 70 (including more "moderately-priced" options). The $5.3 million renovation was positioned by Brooks as part of a plan to increase The Bay's focus on high-end fashion; there were also plans to expand The Room as a featured department at other flagship locations.[24][23]

The Room opened at the downtown Vancouver location in 2011, in the north-east section of the second floor. The 2,100 square metres (23,000 sq ft) department includes many of the designers available in the Toronto Queen Street flagship store, and some not available in the flagship store, including DSquared², Jeremy Liang, and Sid Neigum.[40][41] The Room opened in the downtown Montreal Hudson's Bay store in late 2013.[42] The Toronto version of The Room was relocated to a different part of the store in 2015 to accommodate a new Saks Fifth Avenue location.[43][44]

The West End Shop is the men's version of The Room. The Toronto Queen Street and the Vancouver Granville West End Shops recently[when?] underwent an extensive renovation. The current collection contains labels such as Hugo Boss, Ermenegildo Zegna, Armani Collezioni, Ben Sherman, and Strellson.[45][46]

Hudson's Bay Company Signature Shop

The Bay offers products from the Hudson's Bay Company Collection in a dedicated store, including items such as the iconic Point Blankets, coats, bed sheets, bags, T-shirts, lotions, scents, and candles. HBC has also partnered with Canadian companies like Virginia Johnson, Pink Tartan, and Klaxon Howl to create exclusive, limited edition merchandise. Customized canoes and oars are also available. HBC has also teamed up with international companies for limited edition products, such as Steiff (heritage teddy bear, limited run of 2 500), and Best Made Axe Co.[47] While the Hudson's Bay Company shops appear mainly in flagship stores and its Banff, Alberta location, products from the Hudson's Bay Company Collection (not including limited edition items) are also available at other locations, most notably the Point Blanket. The four-point stripes have also been trademarked worldwide, and are planned to be sold through international retailers which including Lord & Taylor in the US, and Colette in France, in an attempt to market HBC as a brand.[48]

Designer label boutiques

Boutiques for Ralph Lauren are in select locations, including Queen Street, Yorkdale, Bayshore Ottawa, Carrefour Laval, Galeries d'Anjou, Vancouver Downtown, Victoria Downtown, Laurier Québec, and Montreal Downtown. Each boutique contains customized decor, and dedicated company specialists.[49]

The Toronto Queen Street and Montreal Downtown store has opened ground floor boutiques for Burberry, Coach Leathergoods, and See by Chloé. Vancouver and Montreal ground-floor designer boutiques will follow.[49] Hudson's Bay has ended its partnership with Saint-Laurent-based Browns Shoes, and closed all Browns locations in its stores, to allow the department store to offer a larger selection of shoes, and to partner with the Montreal-based ALDO Group. Hudson's Bay is now also offering higher-end brands, keeping in line with offerings from The Room and the West End Shop. The partnership with the Aldo Group began in spring 2011 when the revived Pegabo brand of footwear is going to be carried in Hudson's Bay and in Aldo's own FeetFirst and Locale locations.[50] The website includes online shopping for home fashions and beauty products, and a gift registry.

Brand identity

The Hudson's Bay Company wordmark was written in Blackletter script before 1965.[51]

Lippincott & Margulies designed the "folk-friendly" 1965 The Bay logo, which features a stylized "B" that was previously seen on the header of Hudson Bay Company's royal charter from 1670. Morgan's stores in Quebec featured a logo with an "M" stylized similarly to the "B" from 1969 until they were rebranded to La Baie in 1972.[26]

Lipman designed the 2013 Hudson's Bay rebranding campaign; it restores the Hudson's Bay Company coat of arms, redrawn by Mark Summers. The wordmark is used on all public-facing materials,[26] and has been compared to the typeface used by British fashion house Burberry.[52] The coat of arms is reserved for limited occasions.[26] Before the official rebranding launch, the logo appeared on the exterior of the Vancouver flagship store in December 2012.[53]

See also


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  2. ^ "Our History". The Hudson's Bay Company. 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  3. ^ "Hudson's Bay Company History". Government of Manitoba. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
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  5. ^ "A Canadian Style Legacy". Hudson's Bay Company. Archived from the original on 6 November 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
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  7. ^ "Tourism Toronto | What to Do - Shopping". Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  8. ^ "A Brief History of HBC". HBC Heritage. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Heritage". HBC Heritage. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Hudson's Bay Company". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Our History". Hudson's Bay Company. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  12. ^ Cole, Catherine. "Hudson's Bay Company". Canadian Museum of History. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
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  15. ^ Infantry, Ashante (6 March 2013). "The Hudson's Bay Company unveils new logo for Canada's oldest department store". Toronto Star. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  16. ^ "HBC Heritage". Hudson's Bay Company. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  17. ^ "Hbc Heritage | Heritage Home". Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  18. ^ Newman, Kevin (30 January 1991). "Hudson's Bay Company end its fur trade". CBC News. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  19. ^ Flavelle, Dana (16 July 2008). "HBC sold to new U.S. owner". Toronto: CBC News. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
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  29. ^, Hudson's Bay Nederland vraagt uistel van betaling aan
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