The Hudson’s Bay Co. has again recruited a non-department store executive for a key position.
Bari Harlam, formerly with BJ’s Wholesale Club, Swipely and CVS Health, has become chief marketing officer for all of HBC’s North America operations, which include the Hudson’s Bay, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor department store chains, and the Saks Off 5th and Gilt off-price businesses.
This is the first appointment by Helena Foulkes, HBC’s chief executive officer since February and formerly executive vice president of CVS Health and president of CVS Pharmacy. Harlam and Foulkes worked together at CVS for about 13 years.
Additional management changes are expected under Foulkes’ leadership.
Harlam will lead HBC’s centralized marketing unit, called internally the “marketing center of excellence.” She will be on a mission to advance the company’s approach to marketing through data-driven customer insights. The center is like an in-house agency supporting the marketing strategy of each HBC business and fostering best practices across the organization.
Harlam starts her new job today and reports to Foulkes.
The appointments of Foulkes and Harlam reflect how department stores are recruiting from outside the box and how hungry they are for new ideas and programs to spur shopping. HBC is searching for a new president of Lord & Taylor. Foulkes could appoint another non-department store executive for the job, though according to sources, merchants from competing department stores are among those being considered. As reported first by WWD, Liz Rodbell is leaving her post as president of Lord & Taylor at the end this month.
Harlam takes over responsibilities from Milton Pappas, who left the company. But she has a bigger role. Four areas that didn’t report into Pappas — call centers; research, insights and analytics, loyalty, and campaigns — now report into Harlam. Others reporting to her include the chief creative officer, and heads of media, partnerships, marketing strategy and operations and events.
“I see a real integrated approach here,” Foulkes told WWD. “Together, I believe this combination will advance our approach to marketing…I see the customer as being the most important element of our strategy. To be a successful company, it needs to start with deep, deep insights about the customer.”
Foulkes characterized Harlam as an expert in customer loyalty, personalized and digital marketing, and data analytics, with “deep experience” in branding, promotions, digital and social media and e-commerce. “Bari is a real pioneer in data-driven performance,” Foulkes said. “She will harness the power of consumer data and analytics. She has been innately able to translate complex data and digital insights into breakthrough marketing strategies that put the customer first.”
According to Foulkes, HBC already has a lot of customer data though there’s still opportunity to tap it for insights to create personalized and relevant programs for consumers.
“I am looking forward to working with the team, focusing on listening to our customers, digging into the data and combining that with creative thinking. And I am certain that will give us the ability to design marketing strategies with embellishment across our banners that center on consumer preferences and details that matter most to her,” Harlam told WWD. “HBC has a tremendous wealth of information from multiple consumer segments and different geographies that will uncover actionable insights.”
Harlam’s last job was at BJ’s Wholesale Club where she served as executive vice president of membership and marketing and was accountable for membership fee income, representing roughly 60 percent of the company’s EBITDA.
Before that, she was at Swipely (now Upserve) where she led marketing and product development of business analytics and consumer tools “in a box” for main street businesses.
Earlier at CVS, she launched CVS Pharmacy’s ExtraCare program, which is considered the largest retail loyalty program in the world with 70 million active members. She also created the CVS Health’s Behavior Change & Advisory Council, and has served on the marketing faculties at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Columbia’s Graduate School, and the University of Rhode Island.