HBC CEO Helena Foulkes Out as Company Goes Private

After getting the green light to go private, Hudson’s Bay Co. is making a dramatic change at the top spot.

The Toronto-based firm, parent to Hudson’s Bay Company as well as Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off 5th, today announced that CEO Helena Foulkes will exit, effective March 13. Executive chairman Richard Baker, who was behind the winning go-private deal, will take the reins as CEO.

“The company and I are grateful for Helena’s leadership and significant accomplishments over the last two years. Together, we have simplified our company, strengthened retail operations and reinvigorated our focus on the customer,” said Baker in a release. “Furthermore, we are confident in our go-forward leadership team and our ability to drive HBC forward.”

Foulkes served at HBC’s helm since Feburary 2018, overseeing the retail group as it shed some of its less profitable businesses to focus on namesake Hudson’s Bay and top performer Saks. She led the company through the sales of flash sale site Gilt to Rue La La in June 2018 and of Lord & Taylor to Le Tote ahead of the 2019 holiday season.

“I want to thank the entire HBC team for their trust and dedication over the past two years as we worked to transform the company. We made bold moves to streamline the business, modernize our marketing, seize digital opportunities, bolster our senior leadership team and empower each of our retail businesses to excel in the future,” said Foulkes in a statement. “I’m proud of the work we have done and how HBC embraced cultural change to prioritize delivering for our customers and creating exceptional experiences.”

HBC’s privatization transaction was finalized today. The company is now owned by a group of continuing shareholders, led by Baker, with its other shareholders to receive CA$11 ($8.46) per share in cash.

The finalized deal follows months of back-and-forth buyout proposals between Baker and a coalition of investors, including Rhône Capital LLC and WeWork Property Advisors, as well as private equity firm Catalyst Capital Group Inc.

HBC’s financial results for the three months ended Nov. 2 showed widening net losses to $CA226 million ($171 million), or $CA1.23 per share versus the prior year period’s losses of $CA161 million ($122 million) loss or $CA0.88 per share. Losses from continuing operations were $CA175 million. Third-quarter revenues held roughly flat at $CA1.84 billion ($1.39 billion), with comps sliding 1.7%. Digital sales rose by 15% year over year.

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