Everything indicates that before the end of 2019 the curtain will fall on the Canadian department store formula Hudson's Bay. The company itself has not yet confirmed this, but the financial situation seems unsustainable and a definitive departure from the Netherlands is unavoidable. More than 1,400 employees lose their jobs. It is a drain on the larger Dutch shopping streets that already have so many holes.

Hudson's Bay brought some light back into the darkness after the bankruptcy of V&D in late 2015. The properties of the legendary Dutch department store were vacant for over a year, until the Canadians reported and were warmly welcomed. They bet on an ambitious department store formula and got bogged down in an ambivalent assortment policy.

Horn ringing and skepticism

The go-ahead sounded in 2016 and was accompanied by drum rolls and horns and an investment of € 300 thousand in the Dutch adventure. Many already frowned, because the climate for a new department store chain was not exactly favorable. In addition to V&D, many a chain died. Some time ago we also asked ourselves whether Hudson's Bay would make it in our blog about the desirability of a good omnichannel strategy.

Department store formula Hudson's Bay with no clear direction

Hudson's Bay did not want to be a Bijenkorf, but also not a V&D, the symbol of the middle of the road department store formula that has had its time. But what was Hudson's Bay department store formula? That never became clear and the consumer did not understand it. The shops lacked atmosphere and direction. Social media barely picked up on the signals from the department store, there was no interest.

The score on all image factors that the retailer attributed - including international class, high quality and a lot of variety in the range - was miserable, according to the ongoing Retail Brand Survey. After the change of course, it was neither meat nor fish, and the confused consumer failed forever. Some establishments, out of twelve in total, sometimes had more staff than the public.

The proprietary multichannel formula was launched way too late and competition from other online retailers was deadly. Despite the favorable financial conditions under which Hudson's Bay benefited from vacant V&D buildings, losses continued to mount. The CEO's acknowledgment that they should have stayed closer to the V&D segment came too late. Whether such a course would have helped is highly questionable.

Lack of clear positioning closes the door

Retail experts argue that it's not so much online competition that has been killing Hudson's Bay, but that descending the mountain with a mid-range range has hit the Canadian department store chain. After all, that segment is served excellently by bol.com and Zalando, said extraordinary professor Cor Molenaar recently Emerce. He linked this lesson to it: as a brand you only have a chance of success if your positioning is crystal clear from the start.

A wise lesson. For traditional shops, department store chains and for online retailers.

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