Hudson Bay Co.’s pick for CEO might seem like an unconventional choice, but CVS veteran Helena Foulkes has decades of retail expertise that will be valuable for the challenged company.
Foulkes — the company’s first female chief — joins HBC from CVS Health, where she served as EVP of CVS Health and president of CVS Pharmacy. Foulkes will be responsible for HBC’s global strategy and operations for all banners, overseeing more than 66,000 associates worldwide across a portfolio of more than 480 stores, related e-commerce platforms, supply chain, logistics and technology.
When she begins work this month at HBC, Foulkes will also be appointed to the board of directors of the company, which owns its flagship retailer, as well as Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. Richard Baker, who has been acting interim CEO, will continue as governor and executive chairman of HBC. Former HBC chief Jerry Storch exited amid an HBC management shakeup in November 2017.
Here are five interesting tidbits to know about HBC’s new woman in power — and a look at how she transformed CVS.
1. Foulkes, who attended Harvard University and Harvard Business School, worked at Tiffany & Co. and Goldman Sachs before earning her MBA. She started working at CVS in 1992 and rose through the ranks.
2. Foulkes, 53, is HBC’s first female CEO. She was No. 12 on Fortune‘s most powerful women list in 2017.
3. As retailers in all industries grapple with the “Amazon effect,” Foulkes has made several notable moves to battle the big-box competition during her tenure at CVS — including putting a focus on health. Last year, the chain announced it would roll out a next-day prescription delivery service worldwide.
4. In January, Foulkes and the CVS team made a major decision to stop touching up its beauty images by 2020. Until then, the retailer will let customers know when images used for ads and social media have been altered. “As a woman, mother and president of a retail business whose customers predominantly are women, I realize we have a responsibility to think about the messages we send to the customers we reach each day,” she said in a company statement.
5. In another notable move, Foulkes — who, according to Fortune, is a marathon runner — pioneered a much-buzzed-about move in 2014 to halt cigarette sales at the retailer. “It’s virtually impossible to be in the tobacco business when you want to be a health care partner to the health care system,” Foulkes said at the time.