After less than three years on the job, Jerry Storch, chief executive officer of the Hudson’s Bay Co., is leaving the company.
The announcement today isn’t a complete surprise after months of rumors that he wasn’t long for the job, and less than stellar results permeating most of the Hudson’s Bay Co. retail businesses.
Storch was the second-highest ranking official at HBC, next to Richard Baker, executive chairman and governor of HBC. Storch reported to Baker. It is believed that Baker felt it was time for a change at the top and had been thinking about it for awhile.
Storch leaves on Nov. 1 and will return to his advisory firm, Storch Advisors. An executive search firm to recruit a new ceo has been retained by HBC. Industry sources said that Jim Gold, president and chief merchandising officer of the Neiman Marcus Group; Tony Spring, chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s; and Brendan Hoffman, ceo of Vince, who previously worked for Baker as president of the Lord & Taylor division of HBC, could be among those contacted during the search process.However, Internal executives could also be considered or Baker could decide to pick someone from out of the traditional retail box, as Macy’s did in recently hiring Hal Lawton, a former senior vice president of eBay North America, as president.
“The board and I are grateful for Jerry’s contributions over the past three years, including enhancing our all-channel strategies, recruiting key talent, leading our cost-cutting efforts, and working to address the challenges for our banners in the fast-evolving retail environment,” said Baker. “We thank Jerry and wish him the best.”
Baker, who had previously served as ceo will reassume those duties in addition to his current role, on an interim basis. The company said he will be supported by the executive leadership team, which consists of the division presents and the chief financial officer.
During his relatively short tenure, Storch played a crucial role, keeping the retail businesses together, cutting costs and centralizing operations, helping HBC integrate acquisitions, in making technology advances.
He also freed up Baker to explore real estate opportunities and mergers and acquisitions. Storch had been a close working partner to Baker, and with a background in top retail positions, complemented Baker who is more steeped in real estate.
Storch started his 30-plus-year career as a college student working in the bargain basement of a May Department Stores Co. location in Jacksonville, Fla., selling men’s and women’s shoes. He once said, “You really learn retail when you sell women’s shoes.”
Prior to joining HBC in January 2014, Storch had been chairman and ceo of Storch Advisors. Before that, he was chairman and ceo of Toys ‘R’ Us from 2006 to 2013, which he grew into a $13 billion global retailer and expanded the company’s e-commerce to more than $1 billion, according to HBC. He also drove growth in China and other parts of the world and led the acquisitions of FAO Schwarz, eToys and KB Toys. Late in his tenure there, a slumping toy sector led to aborted plans for an initial public offering.
Earlier, Storch was vice chairman of Target, where he started target.com, Target’s grocery business and oversaw Target Financial Services credit card business. He also oversaw Marshall Field’s, which was sold to May Co. under his watch, and led Target’s corporate strategy function for more than a decade. Before Target, he was a principal at McKinsey & Co.
Baker first tapped Storch while Storch was running Storch Advisors and helping Baker to grow Saks Off 5th, the off-price chain, which lately has not been performing that well.
The company, which operates Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay, Kaufhof, Saks Off 5th and Gilt, has been suffering losses this year, reporting a net loss of 201 million Canadian dollars, or $162.3 million, for the second quarter on a total sales gain of 1.2 percent, while comparable sales inched up 0.4 percent. Last June, the company announced 2,000 job cuts to save 350 million Canadian dollars annually.