A Hudson’s Bay Co. store sign is shown at its Toronto flagship store on July 29, 2013. Hudson’s Bay Co. says it is cutting 2,000 jobs, including some it says were previously announced in February. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Hudson’s Bay announces 2,000 layoffs

TORONTO — Hudson’s Bay Co. (TSX:HBC) said Thursday it is cutting 2,000 jobs across North America to help it compete in an increasingly tough retail environment made more challenging with the rise in online shopping.

Canada’s oldest retailer said the layoffs will save the company $350 million annually once the plan is fully implemented by end of fiscal 2018.

The majority of the job losses will be based in the United States from the head office to the department store floor. They will also be across all banners, representing about four per cent of its workforce in Canada and the U.S.

“We are convinced (the layoffs) won’t affect the customer in any measurable way,” CEO Jerry Storch said in an interview.

“If anything, service will be better in the stores. Many of the cuts are designed to make the company more agile, to reduce layers in the organization and to enable us to act faster in this changing retail environment and to focus more heavily on the all-channel model uniting the Internet with the stores.”

Storch said the company remains committed to investing in online shopping and expanding its footprint in Europe with Hudson’s Bay banner stores and Saks Off 5th stores.

“The world is clearly changing and it will transform how we do business,” he said.

Storch said that HBC still “believes in the department store,” especially in the Canadian market, though the U.S. market may be “oversaturated” with retailers.

The company also announced that it was appointing retail veteran Alison Coville as the new president of Hudson’s Bay and Home Outfitters in Canada. A second team will manage its Lord & Taylor stores in the U.S.

The announcements came as HBC released its first-quarter earnings after markets closed.

It said it had a net loss of $221 million or $1.21 a share, more than double the $97 million loss or 53 cents a share it had in the same period last year.

Retail sales were about $3.2 billion, a decrease of $100 million or three per cent.

Founded in 1670, Hudson’s Bay is the oldest company in North America. It employs more than 66,000 people and operates more than 480 stores under banners such as the Bay, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Gilt, and Saks Off 5th.

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