Less than two years ago the Canadian department store chain Hudson's Bay came to the Netherlands with a lot of bombing. Without much success: last weekend it was announced that the department store would close its doors in the Netherlands at the end of 2019. An overview of the short (and not too powerful) time of Hudson's Bay in the Netherlands.
May 2016: Hudson's Bay is coming to the Netherlands, hope in frightened days
More than two years after the bankruptcy of the typically Dutch department store chain V&D, the Canadian department store giant comes to the Netherlands to fill the void. Literally. Hudson's Bay will take over several old V&D buildings in May 2016. A large part of the staff also makes the switch to the Canadian newcomer.
The company takes around 300 million euros to invest in the Dutch branch. That is remarkable, because the Dutch retail market is not looking very well. One known face after another from the Dutch shopping street leaves or falls over. In addition to V&D, stores such as DA, Aktiesport, Scapino, McGregor and Gaastra are going down. Not the best time to start a department store chain.
September 2017: All happy faces at the opening
For the official opening on 19 September 2017, Hudson's Bay will open a can of celebrities, models and influencers. The store is opened by supermodel Doutzen Kroes, the evening is chatted together by television maker Chantal Janzen and on the red carpet one famous Dutchman appears after the other. TV presenters Tim Hofman and Geraldine Kemper are also hired to recruit staff on social media.
The Canadian department store giant puts itself on the market as a seller of premium items and focuses on " millennial-minded people with their own mentality, their own me, and passion," the company said. With a focus on millennials, Hudson's Bay hopes to cause "buzz" on social media to lure more young and hip millennials.
Top models Doutzen Kroes and Winnie Harlow open the first branch of Hudson's Bay on the Rokin in Amsterdam (Photo: BrunoPress)
December 2017: Millennials cannot afford Hudson's Bay clothing
But the luring of millennials is not going well. Hudson's Bay is too expensive for the target group, so the department store chain is forced to lower prices.
“Customers tell us what they like and what they don't. They think prices are on the high side. ”Edo Beukema, marketing director at Hudson's Bay in FD
"Customers tell us in store and on social media what they think is good and what is not. They think the prices are on the high side. We are missing brands with lower initial prices. That is one of the things that we are going to change from January," says marketing director Edo Beukema v Het Financieele Dagblad ( FD ) in December 2017.
Even with the reduced prices, the millennials stay away, causing the company to incur large losses. In December 2018, De Telegraaf wrote on the basis of internal documents that the retail chain In the Netherlands was suffering heavy losses. The company would certainly lose € 80 million in that year.
April 2019: First rumors about bankruptcy
The poor results in April 2019 lead to rumors about a possible bankruptcy. The German business magazine WirtschaftsWoche writes that the German parent company Karstadt is considering closing Dutch stores or having the company declared bankrupt. The loss of Dutch stores is said to rise to a billion by 2028.
Hudson's Bay leaves Germany in June. At the same time, the parent company of Hudson's Bay, HBC, appoints a financial adviser to view the options for the Dutch branch, as it does not perform as expected. The company says it expects to have to cut back, with closing stores being an option.
See also: Hudson's Bay may close stores in the Netherlands, depart from Germany
June 2019: Canadians lose property from landlord property
Due to the financial problems, things that seemed to be a good idea suddenly become problematic. An example of this is the long lease contracts that Hudson's Bay signed. In 2016, the company concludes rental contracts for fifteen to twenty years.
But what happens if Hudson's Bay leaves the Netherlands and simply stops paying the rent? That question arises in a court case in Zwolle between the department store giant with real estate investor CBRE Global Investors. The agreement stipulates that parent company HBC will continue to pay the rent until 2027 if the Dutch subsidiary stops paying.
HBC does not agree, because the company is not the main responsible for the daily activities at that moment. However, the court does not agree with that. "There is more reluctance than powerlessness," the judge says. The parent company must therefore continue to pay if the Dutch branch stops paying.
August 2019: Hudson's Bay will close its doors later this year
Last Saturday, closing stores appears to be more than just an option. The FD then writes that the Canadian department store giant in the Netherlands is closing the door. "Due to the long-term financially untenable situation, the shareholders have decided to stop further financing in HBC and to close the stores in the Netherlands by the end of 2019," writes the business newspaper in response to an internal email.
As a result of the departure, more than fourteen hundred employees are losing their jobs. For director Jacqueline Twerda of CNV Vakmensen, it was "hardly a real surprise, but a very bitter end that will hit roughly fourteen hundred people," she says.
"The customer was not there and the costs remained high" Jacqueline Twerda, director at CNV Vakmensen
The arrival of the chain two years ago was big news, because it took over the real estate from V&D, which went bankrupt in February 2016. In this way, large, vacant buildings in shopping streets were filled again, but that didn't last long. "The customer was not there and the costs remained high," said Twerda.
See also: Retail expert: 'Hudson's Bay has done too little effort'