The Bay department stores might house Topshop boutiques

The Bay department stores might house Topshop boutiques

The flagship Bay store at Yonge and Queen (Photo by Renato Lorini) 

It’s been a good year for The Bay: the once-beleaguered department chain has lured buzzy brands, including some, like Juicy Couture, aimed at a younger demographic; it won the bid to be the official Canadian Olympics clothier (a post previously held by Roots); and this fall it relaunched The Room, a stunning luxury womenswear section at its Yonge and Queen flagship. In today’s ROB Magazine, Marina Strauss talks with Jeff Sherman, the CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company and former COO of Polo Ralph Lauren, about the store’s transformation, including a possible partnership with British fast-fashion retailer Topshop. Here are the highlights:

The Olympics line has been selling like hotcakes.
The product is selling extraordinarily well. The standout, for sure, has been the red Olympic mittens. Canada and red are synonymous.

They are set to take customers from Holt Renfrew.
We’re stealing market share. I think we are getting it from specialty stores. We’re clearly getting it from Sears. With The Room, we will have some impact on Holt Renfrew.

The Bay should take a lesson from Ralph Lauren and jazz up its stores.
Ralph Lauren flagships have a mahogany staircase in the centre of the store. It almost looks like you’re walking into someone’s home, with fireplaces inside. The problem with The Bay is that it didn’t move with the customer. It stayed stagnant. It hasn’t put a lot of capital into its stores.

The rumours of Topshop boutiques opening inside Bay stores aren’t just rumours.
We’re talking to them, but we have not struck a deal. I’d like to. That’s an indication of how we’re thinking of using a lot of the space in our stores. We’re going to start taking a look at food and restaurants and entertainment venues. We’ve been talking to GoodLife Fitness.

People are shopping again.
Up until a couple of months ago, people were spending less, month after month. That has stopped. I don’t think we’ll be back to pre-recession spending for a while—for years. For The Bay, the opportunity is really attracting customers who have defected from us and are now coming back.

7 questions for Jeff Sherman [Globe and Mail]