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Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Why the Bay couldn’t become the Bay until now. Part 2

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

[READ PART 1 HERE]

This is the Bay – 2011!

THE BRIEF: When last we talked, I asked you why CEO Bonnie Brooks couldn’t have transformed the Bay a decade ago. Why is that?

GAUDRY: Not to say that she couldn’t but it certainly would have been more difficult. The retail environment in Canada during much of the last decade was very turbulent and in a state of evolution. There was intense media attention on the performance of The Bay and questions concerning the viability of the department store. As a publicly traded company in a challenging economy there was more risk aversion. 

THE BRIEF: This is what Anne Kingston wrote about the Bay in Macleans.ca back in 2009.

“Even back in those halcyon days before the economy cratered and ’70 per cent off’ became retail wallpaper. Even then, the prospect of revitalizing the Bay was daunting. Mid-market department stores are on a death watch: so many have folded, Statistics Canada stopped measuring them as a category. “It’s not a viable format,” says Toronto retail analyst John Williams. “They’re squeezed between value merchants – the Walmarts and Winners – on one end, and luxury stores and specialty boutiques on the other. The Bay, whose 92 stores range in size from 1,000 to 100,000 sq. feet and in appearance from shabby to not-shabby, has been subject to multiple failed makeovers over the past decade, helmed by numbers guys who failed to realize that pleasing customers connects to the bottom line. Merchandising was a mish-mash, product inconsistent, sales staff infuriatingly elusive…” * 

GAUDRY: I wouldn’t argue that. The proliferation of retail options, both online and bricks and mortar – especially the plethora of new specialty stores gave Canadian consumers tremendous choice. 

THE BRIEF: I was working for your agency of record at that time when The Bay was being bought by Jerry Zucker and became a private company. What changed?

GAUDRY: When Jerry Zucker* first took The Bay private, it gave the leadership team more breathing room and the ability to identify opportunities for growth, without media scrutiny.

THE BRIEF: …and this 300 year old Canadian company selling out to an American…

GAUDRY: All that. But once the microscope was removed, and people could focus on the brand, there was a greater desire or willingness to take risks. Decisions were made based not on history but on the future viability of the chain and necessity for differentiation.

THE BRIEF: And then Jerry Zucker* suddenly died and Richard Baker* bought the company,

GAUDRY: After Richard Baker bought the company, there was a comprehensive review of the marketplace, probably one of the best in Canada at the time. One of the boldest actions coming out of the research was the elimination of more than 800 brands. That cleaned up the store significantly, allowing for fewer but more relevant brands to cross more doors in a meaningful way. It focused the company’s actions to a well-defined target.

THE BRIEF: Who is the Bay’s biggest competition?

GAUDRY: Anyone in fashion really. Specialty for sure across Canada – and in the Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal I would add Holt Renfrew and the luxury brands with independent boutiques. In terms of Holt Renfrew I actually think this will be interesting to see play out. Holts seems to be adding more aspirational luxury but taking fewer risks with Ladies fashion in general. For sure they have all of the major designers but their buys seem to be a little on the safe side and slower to respond to emerging designers. I think The Bay is buying better fashion for women certainly in Queen Street. We will see how it cascades. The Bay also seems to be creating more industry buzz with special events and designer appearances like Proenza Schouler, the latest designer’s to show up at The Bay.

THE BRIEF: This is the Bay and this is Pruenza Schouler! OMG!

GAUDRY: They are bringing in the hot new designers that everyone is talking about, and showcasing their availability at The Room. Creating buzz and a new narrative for the Bay: The brand has positioned itself anew by aligning with some of the most important new designers on the globe today. These new designer brands are creating a halo for the entire chain. This is making it easier to attract better brands to more doors – like Coach, Diesel, Rachel Roy and Halston to name a few. The arrival of Topshop this fall is a big win. I think we will see a cascading effect of new brands coming on board in the moderate, moderate better and better price bands.

THE BRIEF: As they say in fashion, “WOW!”

THE BRIEF: Anything you would like to see in particular?

GAUDRY: The same energy and enthusiasm they have brought to women’s fashion and accessories extend to menswear and home. While there have been some improvements it certainly isn’t keeping pace with the momentum we are seeing for women.

THE BRIEF: Any predictions for the future.

GAUDRY: Many. But if I were to pick one it would be that I think there will be another real estate play at the Hudson Bay Company. I would not be surprised to see some of the underperforming stores, or stores that do not align to the new vision being closed or sold off with the remaining leases that Target did not acquire from Zellers. I am not sure how many Bay stores will be around in the next few years but I am certain it will not be 91. Conservatively I would say 80, perhaps as low as 65, maybe less – just a guess. It will be interesting to see who picks up the space and how that further changes the retail landscape.

THE BRIEF: Since this is an advertising/marketing column, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about the Bay and media. I hear their radio, but they have certainly changed their marketing strategy. Can we discuss that? What happened to certain promotions like Scratch N Save?

GAUDRY: Largely eliminated. 

THE BRIEF: No TV?

GAUDRY: They haven’t done TV in the past two years. They have significantly shifted spend from broad discounted advertising to a blend of focused sales promotion and brand awareness. They are investing more in online marketing, e-commerce, social media, brand positioning and events. And of course there are the radio spots featuring Bonnie Brooks (which is voiced and written by Bonnie Brooks in collaboration with Terry O’Reilly at Pirate Radio). 

THE BRIEF: How interactive is their social media?

GAUDRY: Lets just say, there is room for improvement.

THE BRIEF: Ultimately, who does the Bay want to be?

GAUDRY:
Not who but what – world class. Time will tell.

The Brief thanks Clint Gaudry for all his insights on the Bay. If the behemoth known as the Bay can make it here, they can make it anywhere and you can too. Imagine all the marketing mistakes you won’t make simply because you read this column.

SOURCES OF WHAT’S HOT AND HAUTE

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Why the Bay couldn’t become the Bay until now. Part 2

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

[READ PART 1 HERE]

This is the Bay – 2011!

THE BRIEF: When last we talked, I asked you why CEO Bonnie Brooks couldn’t have transformed the Bay a decade ago. Why is that?

GAUDRY: Not to say that she couldn’t but it certainly would have been more difficult. The retail environment in Canada during much of the last decade was very turbulent and in a state of evolution. There was intense media attention on the performance of The Bay and questions concerning the viability of the department store. As a publicly traded company in a challenging economy there was more risk aversion. 

THE BRIEF: This is what Anne Kingston wrote about the Bay in Macleans.ca back in 2009.

“Even back in those halcyon days before the economy cratered and ’70 per cent off’ became retail wallpaper. Even then, the prospect of revitalizing the Bay was daunting. Mid-market department stores are on a death watch: so many have folded, Statistics Canada stopped measuring them as a category. “It’s not a viable format,” says Toronto retail analyst John Williams. “They’re squeezed between value merchants – the Walmarts and Winners – on one end, and luxury stores and specialty boutiques on the other. The Bay, whose 92 stores range in size from 1,000 to 100,000 sq. feet and in appearance from shabby to not-shabby, has been subject to multiple failed makeovers over the past decade, helmed by numbers guys who failed to realize that pleasing customers connects to the bottom line. Merchandising was a mish-mash, product inconsistent, sales staff infuriatingly elusive…” * 

GAUDRY: I wouldn’t argue that. The proliferation of retail options, both online and bricks and mortar – especially the plethora of new specialty stores gave Canadian consumers tremendous choice. 

THE BRIEF: I was working for your agency of record at that time when The Bay was being bought by Jerry Zucker and became a private company. What changed?

GAUDRY: When Jerry Zucker* first took The Bay private, it gave the leadership team more breathing room and the ability to identify opportunities for growth, without media scrutiny.

THE BRIEF: …and this 300 year old Canadian company selling out to an American…

GAUDRY: All that. But once the microscope was removed, and people could focus on the brand, there was a greater desire or willingness to take risks. Decisions were made based not on history but on the future viability of the chain and necessity for differentiation.

THE BRIEF: And then Jerry Zucker* suddenly died and Richard Baker* bought the company,

GAUDRY: After Richard Baker bought the company, there was a comprehensive review of the marketplace, probably one of the best in Canada at the time. One of the boldest actions coming out of the research was the elimination of more than 800 brands. That cleaned up the store significantly, allowing for fewer but more relevant brands to cross more doors in a meaningful way. It focused the company’s actions to a well-defined target.

THE BRIEF: Who is the Bay’s biggest competition?

GAUDRY: Anyone in fashion really. Specialty for sure across Canada – and in the Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal I would add Holt Renfrew and the luxury brands with independent boutiques. In terms of Holt Renfrew I actually think this will be interesting to see play out. Holts seems to be adding more aspirational luxury but taking fewer risks with Ladies fashion in general. For sure they have all of the major designers but their buys seem to be a little on the safe side and slower to respond to emerging designers. I think The Bay is buying better fashion for women certainly in Queen Street. We will see how it cascades. The Bay also seems to be creating more industry buzz with special events and designer appearances like Proenza Schouler, the latest designer’s to show up at The Bay.

THE BRIEF: This is the Bay and this is Pruenza Schouler! OMG!

GAUDRY: They are bringing in the hot new designers that everyone is talking about, and showcasing their availability at The Room. Creating buzz and a new narrative for the Bay: The brand has positioned itself anew by aligning with some of the most important new designers on the globe today. These new designer brands are creating a halo for the entire chain. This is making it easier to attract better brands to more doors – like Coach, Diesel, Rachel Roy and Halston to name a few. The arrival of Topshop this fall is a big win. I think we will see a cascading effect of new brands coming on board in the moderate, moderate better and better price bands.

THE BRIEF: As they say in fashion, “WOW!”

THE BRIEF: Anything you would like to see in particular?

GAUDRY: The same energy and enthusiasm they have brought to women’s fashion and accessories extend to menswear and home. While there have been some improvements it certainly isn’t keeping pace with the momentum we are seeing for women.

THE BRIEF: Any predictions for the future.

GAUDRY: Many. But if I were to pick one it would be that I think there will be another real estate play at the Hudson Bay Company. I would not be surprised to see some of the underperforming stores, or stores that do not align to the new vision being closed or sold off with the remaining leases that Target did not acquire from Zellers. I am not sure how many Bay stores will be around in the next few years but I am certain it will not be 91. Conservatively I would say 80, perhaps as low as 65, maybe less – just a guess. It will be interesting to see who picks up the space and how that further changes the retail landscape.

THE BRIEF: Since this is an advertising/marketing column, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about the Bay and media. I hear their radio, but they have certainly changed their marketing strategy. Can we discuss that? What happened to certain promotions like Scratch N Save?

GAUDRY: Largely eliminated. 

THE BRIEF: No TV?

GAUDRY: They haven’t done TV in the past two years. They have significantly shifted spend from broad discounted advertising to a blend of focused sales promotion and brand awareness. They are investing more in online marketing, e-commerce, social media, brand positioning and events. And of course there are the radio spots featuring Bonnie Brooks (which is voiced and written by Bonnie Brooks in collaboration with Terry O’Reilly at Pirate Radio). 

THE BRIEF: How interactive is their social media?

GAUDRY: Lets just say, there is room for improvement.

THE BRIEF: Ultimately, who does the Bay want to be?

GAUDRY:
Not who but what – world class. Time will tell.

The Brief thanks Clint Gaudry for all his insights on the Bay. If the behemoth known as the Bay can make it here, they can make it anywhere and you can too. Imagine all the marketing mistakes you won’t make simply because you read this column.

SOURCES OF WHAT’S HOT AND HAUTE

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Why the Bay couldn’t become the Bay until now. Part 2

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

[READ PART 1 HERE]

This is the Bay – 2011!

THE BRIEF: When last we talked, I asked you why CEO Bonnie Brooks couldn’t have transformed the Bay a decade ago. Why is that?

GAUDRY: Not to say that she couldn’t but it certainly would have been more difficult. The retail environment in Canada during much of the last decade was very turbulent and in a state of evolution. There was intense media attention on the performance of The Bay and questions concerning the viability of the department store. As a publicly traded company in a challenging economy there was more risk aversion. 

THE BRIEF: This is what Anne Kingston wrote about the Bay in Macleans.ca back in 2009.

“Even back in those halcyon days before the economy cratered and ’70 per cent off’ became retail wallpaper. Even then, the prospect of revitalizing the Bay was daunting. Mid-market department stores are on a death watch: so many have folded, Statistics Canada stopped measuring them as a category. “It’s not a viable format,” says Toronto retail analyst John Williams. “They’re squeezed between value merchants – the Walmarts and Winners – on one end, and luxury stores and specialty boutiques on the other. The Bay, whose 92 stores range in size from 1,000 to 100,000 sq. feet and in appearance from shabby to not-shabby, has been subject to multiple failed makeovers over the past decade, helmed by numbers guys who failed to realize that pleasing customers connects to the bottom line. Merchandising was a mish-mash, product inconsistent, sales staff infuriatingly elusive…” * 

GAUDRY: I wouldn’t argue that. The proliferation of retail options, both online and bricks and mortar – especially the plethora of new specialty stores gave Canadian consumers tremendous choice. 

THE BRIEF: I was working for your agency of record at that time when The Bay was being bought by Jerry Zucker and became a private company. What changed?

GAUDRY: When Jerry Zucker* first took The Bay private, it gave the leadership team more breathing room and the ability to identify opportunities for growth, without media scrutiny.

THE BRIEF: …and this 300 year old Canadian company selling out to an American…

GAUDRY: All that. But once the microscope was removed, and people could focus on the brand, there was a greater desire or willingness to take risks. Decisions were made based not on history but on the future viability of the chain and necessity for differentiation.

THE BRIEF: And then Jerry Zucker* suddenly died and Richard Baker* bought the company,

GAUDRY: After Richard Baker bought the company, there was a comprehensive review of the marketplace, probably one of the best in Canada at the time. One of the boldest actions coming out of the research was the elimination of more than 800 brands. That cleaned up the store significantly, allowing for fewer but more relevant brands to cross more doors in a meaningful way. It focused the company’s actions to a well-defined target.

THE BRIEF: Who is the Bay’s biggest competition?

GAUDRY: Anyone in fashion really. Specialty for sure across Canada – and in the Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal I would add Holt Renfrew and the luxury brands with independent boutiques. In terms of Holt Renfrew I actually think this will be interesting to see play out. Holts seems to be adding more aspirational luxury but taking fewer risks with Ladies fashion in general. For sure they have all of the major designers but their buys seem to be a little on the safe side and slower to respond to emerging designers. I think The Bay is buying better fashion for women certainly in Queen Street. We will see how it cascades. The Bay also seems to be creating more industry buzz with special events and designer appearances like Proenza Schouler, the latest designer’s to show up at The Bay.

THE BRIEF: This is the Bay and this is Pruenza Schouler! OMG!

GAUDRY: They are bringing in the hot new designers that everyone is talking about, and showcasing their availability at The Room. Creating buzz and a new narrative for the Bay: The brand has positioned itself anew by aligning with some of the most important new designers on the globe today. These new designer brands are creating a halo for the entire chain. This is making it easier to attract better brands to more doors – like Coach, Diesel, Rachel Roy and Halston to name a few. The arrival of Topshop this fall is a big win. I think we will see a cascading effect of new brands coming on board in the moderate, moderate better and better price bands.

THE BRIEF: As they say in fashion, “WOW!”

THE BRIEF: Anything you would like to see in particular?

GAUDRY: The same energy and enthusiasm they have brought to women’s fashion and accessories extend to menswear and home. While there have been some improvements it certainly isn’t keeping pace with the momentum we are seeing for women.

THE BRIEF: Any predictions for the future.

GAUDRY: Many. But if I were to pick one it would be that I think there will be another real estate play at the Hudson Bay Company. I would not be surprised to see some of the underperforming stores, or stores that do not align to the new vision being closed or sold off with the remaining leases that Target did not acquire from Zellers. I am not sure how many Bay stores will be around in the next few years but I am certain it will not be 91. Conservatively I would say 80, perhaps as low as 65, maybe less – just a guess. It will be interesting to see who picks up the space and how that further changes the retail landscape.

THE BRIEF: Since this is an advertising/marketing column, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about the Bay and media. I hear their radio, but they have certainly changed their marketing strategy. Can we discuss that? What happened to certain promotions like Scratch N Save?

GAUDRY: Largely eliminated. 

THE BRIEF: No TV?

GAUDRY: They haven’t done TV in the past two years. They have significantly shifted spend from broad discounted advertising to a blend of focused sales promotion and brand awareness. They are investing more in online marketing, e-commerce, social media, brand positioning and events. And of course there are the radio spots featuring Bonnie Brooks (which is voiced and written by Bonnie Brooks in collaboration with Terry O’Reilly at Pirate Radio). 

THE BRIEF: How interactive is their social media?

GAUDRY: Lets just say, there is room for improvement.

THE BRIEF: Ultimately, who does the Bay want to be?

GAUDRY:
Not who but what – world class. Time will tell.

The Brief thanks Clint Gaudry for all his insights on the Bay. If the behemoth known as the Bay can make it here, they can make it anywhere and you can too. Imagine all the marketing mistakes you won’t make simply because you read this column.

SOURCES OF WHAT’S HOT AND HAUTE

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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