Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) announced today that it's pursuing strategic alternatives for Lord & Taylor, including a possible sale or merger, as part of its strategy to focus on its best opportunities. “This review of strategic alternatives for Lord & Taylor is another example of how we're exploring options to position HBC for long-term success,” said Helena Foulkes, CEO, HBC. “Over the last year, we’ve taken bold actions and made fundamental fixes that have resulted in a far stronger, more capable HBC, having returned to positive operating cash flow, increased profitability and strengthened the balance sheet,” Foulkes continued. "Lord & Taylor is a storied brand that has stood for quality, style and service for many years and serves a highly engaged, loyal customer base through a dedicated team of associates. Throughout the review, Lord & Taylor remains committed to serving customers across its stores and digital channels.”
Total Retail's Take: Like other U.S. department stores, Lord & Taylor has been struggling as consumers shop less at malls and more online. To combat this trend, Lord & Taylor's parent company, HBC, has been simplifying its organization, strengthening its retail operations, improving its cost structure, and making strategic investments in technology and digital capabilities, marketing and stores. It also has been closing stores: Lord & Taylor’s footprint has fallen to 45 stores as of Feb. 2, down from 50 a year ago. Among its store closures is its iconic Fifth Avenue location in New York City, which went dark earlier this year after the building was sold to WeWork. Last month, HBC reported that fourth-quarter same-store sales for Lord & Taylor, Home Outfitters and its namesake brand declined 5.2 percent.