Hudson’s Bay Co. is reportedly laying off hundreds of workers in its home base of Canada.
According to the Canadian Press, the retailer is permanently letting go of more than 600 employees at its namesake department stores across the country. Nearly half of its locations remain temporarily shuttered as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis.
FN has reached out to the company for confirmation and comment. The Canadian Press report suggested that the affected workers predominantly work in “sales and middle management roles” at stores in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver.
For the retail group, which also owns luxury chain Saks Fifth Avenue, the layoffs would represent less than 5% of its total workforce. None of its stores are expected to close as part of the move. (Hudson’s Bay currently operates 88 units — all in Canada.)
With the reinstated lockdowns amid a surge in infections, many businesses — including department stores like Hudson’s Bay — were forced to shut down, while grocery chains and big-box retailers that sold essential goods have been permitted to continue operations. This led Hudson’s Bay in mid-December to ask a judge in an Ontario court to review the current regulations governing nonessential retail across Toronto and Peel. It had also signed a letter, along with 46 other businesses, for a 25% capacity limit on all retailers across the province.
“We have been left with no choice but to ask the court to recognize the unfairness of the current situation and the need for a fair and evidence-based solution that puts health and safety first and doesn’t jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of retail workers or the future of many businesses,” Hudson’s Bay wrote in a statement at the time.
Hudson’s Bay Co. notably went private about a year ago as its losses widened due to heavy competition and a broader shift to digital, which has only been accelerated in pandemic times. CEO Helena Foulkes exited last March, leaving executive chairman Richard Baker, who was behind the winning go-private deal, to take the reins.