In a Code Commerce session during Shoptalk on Sunday night in Las Vegas, she laid out how that thinking played into a string of recent moves — including the fire sale of e-commerce site Gilt Groupe. After two years, the $250 million acquisition wound up being sold for less than $100 million in a deal struck in June.

“I could see why we bought it. It was this idea…if you’re in the apparel business, you should try to have something that’s online only,” Foulkes told Recode’s Kara Swisher. “I think it may have been a really good idea that was probably not well executed. And when I came in, what I saw was a massive distraction…”

Likewise, Hudson’s Bay off-loaded its controlling interest in German department store Galeria Kaufhof and shuttered its Home Outfitters business in Canada. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Lord & Taylor’s flagship on Fifth Avenue in New York went dark.

As a 350-year-old business itself, Hudson’s Bay seems to have some empathy for the legacy department store business and the tricky spot it finds itself in now.

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Hudson’s Bay Co.’s Helena Foulkes (Getty Images) courtesy

Lord & Taylor is in a sort of limbo that’s “neither the high-end luxury, where you can really own it, nor is it the low-cost, deep discount retailer,” Foulkes said.

The ceo was quick to add that current president Vanessa LeFebvre is doing a great job at bringing innovation to the business. But it’s “handicapped by its positioning in the marketplace,” she said.

Foulkes believes the way out is to get personal and local. “You have to say, I’m in Westfield, N.J., and I’m going to be incredibly relevant for this market that I serve,” she said. “I’m going to bring in new services, stylists and do things that really matter to the people who live in this community.