L&T to Meet with Vendors

Retailer Lord & Taylor to discuss operations and plans.

Calling all vendors, calling all vendors.

This story first appeared in the April 17, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Lord & Taylor, seeking to alleviate concerns about its business, is staging two mass meetings with designers and apparel executives today inside the Fifth Avenue flagship.

About 150 from the fashion community are expected to attend in what amounts to an unprecedented tactic by the privately held Lord & Taylor chain, prompted by the difficult economy and recent actions by the parent Hudson’s Bay Trading Co., to shore up the operations, including pumping in $70 million, laying off 1,000 workers, centralizing operations and closing the Fortunoff division.

While the vendor meeting represents a first for Lord & Taylor, the event is not unlike others that have been conducted by publicly owned retailers such as Macy’s Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. for the benefit of analysts and vendors.

At Lord & Taylor, designers and apparel executives will hear presentations by Hudson’s Bay’s top officials: Richard Baker, governor of Hudson’s Bay Trading Co. and chief executive of NRDC Equity Partners, which owns Hudson’s Bay; Jeffrey Sherman, Hudson’s Bay chief executive officer, and Brendan Hoffman, president and ceo of Lord & Taylor.

The officials are expected to discuss the state of the Lord & Taylor business and its plans, some of which appear to be on hold. Before the recession hit, the company unveiled intentions to renovate the flagship, located between 38th and 39th streets, and convert much of it to nonretail space, and to expand Lord & Taylor to Canada. Like other chains, Lord & Taylor has been preoccupied with weathering the economy and has been continuing on a path set by its previous ceo, Jane Elfers. She reduced the store count and eliminated much moderate merchandise to recast the chain as a Northeast regional operation focused on contemporary, better and bridge labels.