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NRDC acquires Canada’s oldest retailer

Owner of Fortunoff, Lord & Taylor buys Hudson’s Bay

A North American retailing powerhouse was born this month when NRDC, the equity firm owners of Fortunoff and upscale U.S. department store Lord & Taylor acquired Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada’s oldest retailer.

“By acquiring Hudson’s Bay Company along with previous acquisitions Lord & Taylor and Fortunoff, we will have an unprecedented opportunity to recreate the retail landscape in North America,” said Richard Baker, CEO of NRDC. As CEO of HBTC, Baker also became the 38th governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, succeeding Anita Zucker. Before the purchase, Baker sat on the board of directors and was a minority shareholder in HBC, holding about a 20% stake.

In completing the acquisition, NRDC Equity Partners created a holding company called Hudson’s Bay Trading. The combined company will have annual sales of about $8 billion, 75,000 employees and about 650 stores with 55 million square feet of retail spaces across all 10 Canadian provinces and nine U.S. states, mainly in the Northeast.

Terms were not disclosed. The sale comes two and a half years after the 338-year-old Hudson’s Bay was bought for slightly more than $1.1 billion by Jerry Zucker, a Charleston, S.C. investor. Rumors about a possible sale had circulated since Zucker’s death in April.

Soon after the acquisition, Baker announced retail veteran Jeffrey Sherman will become CEO of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Sherman recently retired as president of the Polo Retail Group, the merchandising arm of Polo Ralph Lauren, and earlier was an executive at Limited Brands and Federated Department Stores, where he was chief operating officer of Bloomingdale’s before becoming chairman and CEO of Federated Direct.

NRDC also said it is investing $500 million in new equity into HBTC. The combined company plans to open between 10 and 15 Lord & Taylor stores in Canada while introducing Fortunoff home departments and jewelry stores within existing Bay department stores as well as with freestanding units.

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