Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) confirmed Friday that it will close its 15 department stores located in the Netherlands by the end of the year.
The retailer, which operates the Hudson’s Bay, Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off Fifth department store chains, said it has come to an agreement with local unions “to offer solutions for employees impacted by the closure.”
The closure was first reported earlier this month by Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, which obtained a confidential letter from HBC that said the closures were due in part to a “long-term financially untenable situation.” The newspaper reported that 1,424 employees at 15 stores will be laid off.
CNV Vakmensen, one of the unions representing Hudson’s Bay employees, said in a statement on Sept. 2 that the decision was “hardly a surprise” but still “a very bitter end.”
HBC opened its first Hudson’s Bay location in Amsterdam just two years ago, a move that was part of a broader expansion into Europe that the retailer has since retreated from.
Earlier this year, HBC announced that it would sell its remaining 49.9 per cent stake of a real estate joint venture in Germany, signalling a desire to exit from its European operations and focus more on the North American market.
HBC chief executive Helena Foulkes said on a quarterly conference call in June that the sale of its German joint venture was in part due to challenges of operating within a 50-50 ownership structure.
“But mostly, it allows us to focus on North America. We always said that was our endgame and our goal,” Foulkes told analysts.
Wereldhave, a Dutch company that rents one of its properties to Hudson’s Bay, said in a statement released Monday that it had not received information from Hudson’s Bay about it terminating its rental contract, which is set to expire in 2037. The company said it has already began exploring several scenarios for the property, as Hudson’s Bay had previously indicated it planned on focusing more on the North American market.