In a move intended to pump up its off-price businesses, the Hudson’s Bay Co. has expanded the role of Marc Metrick, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, to include Gilt and Saks Off 5th.
The divisions will be kept separate with Metrick leading distinct teams at each, the company said Tuesday in revealing his expanded responsibilities.
The Gilt and Saks Off 5th divisions have been performing poorly, while the rest of the off-price sector has been among the healthiest in the retail industry.
In 2016, HBC integrated the planning, marketing and merchandising leadership teams for Gilt and Off 5th to gain buying power and share brands, as well as leverage Gilt’s mobile and personalization technologies and work to bring the Gilt brand into the physical space. That year, Gilt opened its first and only brick-and-mortar shop, inside Saks Off 5th on 57th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues in Manhattan. Beyond that one, Gilt shops have not been rolled out. At one time, HBC referred to the integration of Gilt inside Saks Off 5th as their “power couple.”
Retail experts also attribute the recent weak performance at HBC’s off-price division to pricing and merchandise changes a few years ago that didn’t take, including lowering the opening price points at Saks Off 5th to appeal to a wider audience and projecting more of an everyday low price message, rather than taking steep markdowns periodically as other off-pricers do. In the third quarter of 2017, comparable-store sales fell 7.6 percent at HBC’s off-pricers. In all of 2016, comparable sales fell 5.9 percent at HBC’s off-price units.
Richard Baker, governor, executive chairman and interim chief executive officer of Hudson’s Bay Co., explained why he thought putting Metrick in charge of the off-pricer business was a good idea: “Since assuming leadership of Saks Fifth Avenue in 2015, Marc has successfully implemented strategies to enhance business performance and elevate the Saks experience to be at the forefront of luxury retailing. Marc’s ability to shape and evolve the shopping experience is critical for success in an ever-changing retail environment, and I have great confidence that he will position Gilt and Saks Off 5th to drive improved performance.”
“I love the challenge,” Metrick told WWD. “I have lots of confidence in the team so that makes it pretty digestible. I’m excited to work closely with the entire team at Gilt and Saks Off 5th to drive performance and move the business forward. There is opportunity for growth at both businesses, especially on their respective digital platforms.”
As Metrick expands his role and responsibilities, HBC continues to search for a new chief executive officer since the departure of Jerry Storch last November. Executives inside and outside the company are likely to be considered for the post.
HBC Metrick said the company will maintain the two distinct teams, for Saks Fifth Avenue and for the off-price units. “I am going to be driving a strategic plan and helping support the line leadership at all the businesses.” Regarding getting additional cost synergies, “We don’t see them,” he said.
Metrick has been president of Saks Fifth Avenue since April 2015. Earlier, he was chief marketing officer and chief administrative officer of HBC, where he was responsible for corporate strategy and administration for all of HBC’s retail businesses. He spent the first 15 years of his career at Saks Fifth Avenue, ultimately becoming its chief strategy officer before joining the leadership team of HBC in 2012. Metrick played an instrumental role in HBC’s acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue in 2013 and has since focused on driving growth there.
Jonathan Greller, president of Gilt and Saks Off 5th, will leave HBC on Jan. 12.
“Jonathan has worked with the team to integrate Gilt and Saks Off 5th, bring Saks Off 5th to Canada and open more than 45 stores across North America. We thank Jonathan for his many contributions to HBC and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Baker said.
Greller began his career with Lord & Taylor in 1993 and served in a number of merchandising capacities at the department store chain, including overseeing men’s wear. He also once served as group senior vice president of private brand apparel, global sourcing and specialty for the Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor department store chains, and later became president of outlets at HBC with responsibility for Off 5th as well as for the Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay outlets. Greller added responsibility for Gilt after it was purchased by HBC in January 2016. At that time, Gilt was already on a negative trend. In July 2012, Greller left HBC to serve as The Doneger Group’s chief operating officer but in the November the same year he returned to HBC.
Aside from Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off 5th and Gilt, HBC operates Hudson’s Bay in Canada, Lord & Taylor, Galeria Kaufhof in Germany and Galeria Inno in Belgium. HBC also has real estate joint ventures with Simon Property Group Inc. and with RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust.