After helping to blaze the path for Hudson’s Bay Co. to go private, the company’s chief executive is departing the firm. Helena Foulkes, who is expected to leave in the weeks to come, came to the Saks Fifth Avenue parent from CVS Health Co. and aided the company by bolstering operations as well as selling businesses, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Richard Baker, Hudson’s Bay Co. executive chairman, will assume the CEO role.
In 2017, Hudson’s Bay Co. was a target of Land & Buildings Investment Management LLC, an activist investor that wanted the firm to optimize its real estate value by converting its retail space into hotels, offices and other boutiques. Hudson’s Bay Co. brought Foulkes on board as then-CEO Gerald Storch was leaving the firm.
Foulkes was with CVS for over 25 years and was most recently president of its pharmacy division. She was reportedly an important part of the chain’s 2014 decision to stop the sales of tobacco in stores. Foulkes got rid of Galeria Kaufhof, Gilt Groupe and other European operations in addition to Lord & Taylor, which set the stage for the company to go private.
Last week, shareholders gave the green light for a transaction with a group of investors, which includes Baker, to take the company private. Baker, a real estate executive, came into the fashion industry when his investment company acquired Lord & Taylor for $1.2 billion in 2006. He developed a conglomerate that encompassed Saks Fifth Avenue, Gilt Groupe, Galeria Kaufhof and the Hudson’s Bay retail chain in Canada.
The news of Foulkes’ departure comes as Hudson’s Bay’s latest results in December illustrated the impact of discounts at its Saks Fifth Avenue operations, along with lower same-store sales. The Canadian firm and Saks Fifth Avenue owner said at the time that sales at stores that have been open for at least 13 months were down 1.7 percent.
As noted by past reports the company has faced headwinds in luxury sales, and also had been going through a market share battle in Canada.