Lord & Taylor President Vanessa LeFebvre Exits as Parent HBC Mulls Its Sale

Many changes are afoot at Hudson’s Bay Co. — the latest being the departure of banner Lord & Taylor’s president, Vanessa LeFebvre.

The executive announced yesterday on LinkedIn that she would be leaving her post at the retailer after her appointment just over a year ago. In the note, LeFebvre said she shared on Wednesday her decision to step down from the business, which she joined in May 2018 after leaving a VP position at online personal styling service Stitch Fix.

“Thank you to my Lord & Taylor team. I have such gratitude for your spirit, dedication, friendship and hard work,” she wrote. “You put the customer first daily and push for progress. This hasn’t always been easy, but I am grateful for the journey.”

LeFebvre took the reins from Liz Rodbell, who led Lord & Taylor in 2014 and announced her resignation in April 2018. It was a full-circle moment for the former exec, who began her career at the New York-based chain and spent 10 years as a buyer and DMM. She went on to senior roles at several retailers including Macy’s, TJX Companies and Daffy’s.

The announcement comes one day after HBC reported weak first-quarter earnings results, which dropped 3.3% to 2.12 billion Canadian dollars ($1.58 billion) due to the company’s shrinking physical footprint and declining comps for Lord & Taylor. It reversed its year-ago losses of 398 million Canadian dollars ($296.8 million) to a post profits of 275 million Canadian dollars ($205.1 million), including about 817 million Canadian dollars ($609.5 million) from the sale of the Lord & Taylor flagship. (The retailer memorably closed down its century-long home on New York City’s Fifth Avenue in early January.)

Last month, HBC said that it was exploring “strategic alternatives” for the department store chain, which could include a potential sale, joint venture or merger. It was the latest effort by CEO Helena Foulkes — who joined the team in February 2018 — to shed the company’s underperforming divisions and put greater emphasis on its more promising banners.

HBC has also begun downsizing Lord & Taylor’s physical footprint as part of last year’s plan to shutter up to 10 of the 48 stores operating at the time. Last week, the company confirmed two more closures — one at Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg, Md., and Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights, Mich. — that will begin liquidating over the next few months.

Separately, HBC is currently mulling a go-private bid and announced this week that it had formed a special committee to review the proposal, valued at 1.7 billion Canadian dollars ($1.26 billion) in cash. It also agreed to pull out of its European operations, with Foulkes adding that the deal would allow the retailer to “fully focus our resources on HBC’s North American operations, including our best growth opportunities — Saks Fifth Avenue and Hudson’s Bay.”

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