There’s a familiar face missing in the front row of the men’s fashion shows in Europe this month: Eric Jennings, vice president of men’s, home, gifts and beauty for Saks Fifth Avenue.
Jennings was one of the casualties in the massive layoffs at Hudson’s Bay Co. on Thursday that impacted 2,000 people, or 4 percent of the workforce for the retail company that counts Saks, Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay as among its properties in North America.
Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president and fashion director of Hudson’s Bay, was also let go as part of the shakeup.
The departure of Jennings, who had been the men’s fashion director and face of the men’s area for Saks for just under nine years, followed the February cut of Nelson Mui, vice president and men’s fashion director for Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor. Mui’s termination was part of HBC’s first salvo to cut corporate overhead by 75 million Canadian dollars, or just more than $55 million at current exchange. The layoffs on Thursday are expected to result in annual savings of more than 350 million Canadian dollars, or $259 million, by the end of fiscal year 2018, with about 170 million Canadian dollars, or $125.8 million, anticipated to be realized this fiscal year.
A spokesman for HBC said that with the Thursday departure of Jennings and Timmins, “Our fashion direction has been centralized under the leadership of Roopal Patel, fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue. Roopal remains fashion director for Saks and her team will provide fashion/trend direction services for our other North American banners. Men’s fashion direction will fold into the existing team.”
Patel had been overseeing the entire fashion office since joining Saks in September 2015, “inclusive of women’s, men’s, accessories and cosmetics,” said Andrew Blecher, chief communications officer for HBC. He said that before joining Saks, Patel had her own consulting firm that “provided fashion and trend direction advisory services for a number of brands that was inclusive of men’s.”
Reached on his cell phone on Friday, Jennings said he was experiencing a “roller coaster of emotions” since receiving the news. He said he will work to “breathe a little bit and reinvent myself. People are telling me to take my time and step away for a while, but I’m a hustler and I like being busy.”
He said that in addition to men’s fashion, since being involved in the launch of Saks’ Wellery last month, a space devoted to health, beauty and fitness at the flagship, he realized he’s “very interested in the wellness space. It’s very inspiring,” he said. “And I’m an open book right now.”
Before joining Saks, Jennings was the brand director of Hickey Freeman. He has spent nine years at Hugo Boss, two at Giorgio Armani and just over two years at Faconnable.
Timmins has been with HBC for over 15 years, first as fashion director at Hudson’s Bay, then taking on responsibility for Lord & Taylor five years ago. She is credited with transforming the designer business at Hudson’s Bay and has been a champion of Canadian designers. She will remain at the retailer until the end of this month.