Hudson’s Bay Reportedly In Talks To Buy Gilt Groupe

After slowing down for a few months, the M&A market is red-hot again.

The most recent merger chatter has Hudson’s Bay Co. — the Canada-based owner of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor — in talks to purchase online retailer Gilt Groupe Inc.

According to multiple reports, HBC could close the sale for about $250 million early next year.

Word is that HBC plans to pair Gilt, which had a valuation of $1.1 billion in 2011, with its Saks Off Fifth concept, according to The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story Tuesday.

HBC plans to open Gilt shops inside Saks Off 5th stores and will keep layoffs of Gilt’s management and teams to a minimum, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing one source.

In spring 2007, entrepreneur Kevin Ryan launched Gilt with its unique concept of online flash sales for designer wares.

After some success in its early days — the company was able to raise $138 million from investors in 2011 — Gilt has faced its share of struggles.

In recent years, flash-sale sites, including Rue La La and Zulily, appeared to have lost their luster among consumers. QVC snapped up the latter in August in search of a buzzed-about synergy.

HBC has been active in M&A bidding lately, closing its purchase of Galeria Holding in late September to create HBC Europe, comprised of German mega-department store chain Galeria Kaufhof, Belgium department store Galeria Inno and Sportarena. The unit already delivered a 6.6 percent same-store sales jump during the first month of HBC’s ownership, the company said during its Q3 earnings release.

HBC’s sales advanced 34 percent in the third quarter, to $2.6 billion (CAD), or $1.9 billion, while net earnings were $1 million (CAD), or $740,000, an improvement over the year-ago quarter, when the company posted a net loss of $13 million.

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