Zellers, once a major mass merchandise chain in Canada, is being revived by Hudson’s Bay early next year.
Categories for the launch will include housewares and home decor, furniture, small appliances, toys, and pet accessories and “a design-led, value-driven private brand,” Hudson’s Bay said in a statement Wednesday. The company said apparel and other categories will be added later to the assortment, which will grow through the year.
“We know how special Zellers is in the hearts and minds of people in Canada. ‘Where the lowest price is the law’ was a calling card, which has helped Zellers establish itself as more than a retail destination, but a place to build and support community,” said Adam Powell, Zellers, chief business officer.
Zellers, founded in 1931, once operated hundreds of stores across Canada. The company was acquired by HBC in 1978 and through expansion and acquisitions the business peaked in the ’90s with 350 stores. However, competition, in particular the entry of Walmart into Canada, took its toll on the business. HBC, unable to turn around Zellers and focused on its other retail assets, in 2011 sold many of the leases to Target in a $1.83 billion deal, while retaining 64 locations. However, the deal foreshadowed the eventual demise of the Zellers business.
Target converted many of the Zellers sites to Target stores, but some operational and pricing misfires and a failure to win over Canadians resulted in the liquidation of the Target locations in Canada. Not too long after that HBC decided to liquidate the remaining Zellers sites, but retained ownership of the brand name. A year ago, the Zellers brand was quietly relaunched as a pop-up at the Hudson’s Bay in Canada’s Burlington Centre mall.
HBC operates the 84 Hudson’s Bay stores and Thebay.com, which is an online marketplace. The stores and the e-commerce operation are separate companies. Founded in 1670, HBC is North America’s oldest company. The HBC portfolio also includes Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off 5th.