A day after buying Hudson's Bay Co., NRDC Equity Partners moved to put its stamp on top management.
Jeffrey Sherman, former president of Bloomingdale's and former president and chief operating officer of Polo Ralph Lauren Retail, was named chief executive officer of Hudson's Bay. He will be responsible for all of the retail operations, which include The Bay, Zellers, Home Outfitters and Fields. Sherman, a 38-year retailing veteran, succeeds Robert Johnston.
He intends to make changes quickly. "The first order of priority is to make sure we provide separate and independent leadership for The Bay and Zellers," Sherman said in an interview. "Previously, there was combined organization that serviced both brands simultaneously. We are setting up the leadership for each, and then we will work through the process of providing them with organizational structure."
Sherman said new leaders should be in place in about two months. "I am on a very fast track. There is a sense of urgency that's not artificial."
The announcement Thursday confirmed a WWD report.
NRDC purchased Toronto-based Hudson's Bay, which operates entirely in Canada, for more than $1.1 billion on Wednesday, industry sources said.
NRDC owns Lord & Taylor, Fortunoff and Creative Design Studio, and wants to expand L&T to Canada. A new holding company, called The Hudson's Bay Trading Co., was formed as the umbrella for all the divisions.
Sherman, 60, "will bring a wealth of retailing expertise to the Canadian retail marketplace," said Richard Baker, ceo of NRDC Equity, and also the new governor of Hudson's Bay. The title of governor is the Canadian equivalent of being chairman.
Other key appointments at Hudson's Bay are expected soon, including new divisional merchant heads to oversee The Bay and Zellers divisions.
Sherman departed from Polo Ralph Lauren in June. He was responsible for overseeing operations of the company's global owned retail stores in the U.S., Europe and Asia; the global Polo outlet division; Rugby; Club Monaco, and ralphlauren.com.
Previously, Sherman was ceo of the Limited Stores specialty chain. Before that, he was president and chief operating officer of Bloomingdale's, where he worked for 30 years. He then became chairman and ceo of the Federated Direct unit before joining Limited.
"I've learned a lot from Michael, Les, Roger and Ralph about what a great retail store looks like," Sherman said, referring to Michael Gould, ceo of Bloomingdale's; Les Wexner, ceo of Limited Brands; Roger Farah, president of Polo Ralph Lauren, and Ralph Lauren.
"There's this maniacal focus on the customer. That's what Hudson's Bay needs — that passion for the customer. We really need to understand the customer expectations of the Hudson's Bay brands." Changing the look and content of the stores with different brands and presentations would come after researching the Canadian consumer.
Asked how The Bay and Zellers stores are performing, Sherman replied: "They are doing OK. They look good. They have been managed effectively. The focus has not been on running great retail stores. They have been [focused] on running good stores, not great ones. There is a difference. The objective of Richard and I is to really move the needle and recapture market share and bring back the heritage of both of these brands, which, at the moment, are not at their heritage level."
He also said the stores have been trying to be "too much to too many people."
The $7 billion Hudson's Bay Co. is Canada's largest diversified general merchandise retailer, with more than 580 retail outlets and almost 60,000 associates.
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