Hudson’s Bay Hires CVS Exec As New CEO

Hudson’s Bay has hired the president of CVS as its new CEO.

According to news from The Wall Street Journal, Helena Foulkes is the new chief executive of Hudson’s Bay, which owns Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.

“The world is changing very rapidly,” said Hudson’s Bay Chairman Richard Baker, who has been serving as interim CEO after Jerry Storch’s departure. “We were looking for a transformational leader.”

While Foulkes doesn’t have fashion experience, her new employer was impressed that “she knows operations, she knows about brand building,” said a source.

Foulkes, who has an MBA from Harvard, has been with CVS for 20 years. During her time, she worked to overhaul the company’s retail business in order to compete with Amazon, increasing CVS’ health-conscious options and boosting its health and beauty offerings.

In addition, Foulkes played a huge part in CVS’ decision to ban tobacco sales, while also working on its digital initiatives. Currently, 48 million consumers fill their CVS prescriptions online.

Regarding her latest endeavor, Foulkes said she was attracted to Hudson’s Bay because she “grew up with these iconic banners and felt a real connection to them.” She will start her new position on Feb. 19.

Like many retailers, Hudson’s Bay has been under pressure as consumers are opting to shop online. Last year, there were rumors the company was considering buying Neiman Marcus.

However, one of its investors, Land & Buildings Investment Management, strongly urged the company to refocus its efforts on its real estate holdings rather than merger activities. In fact, with the Saks Fifth Avenue location in New York City worth $3.8 billion in real estate alone, Land & Buildings’ Co-Founder Jonathan Litt was pushing for Hudson’s Bay to do an evaluation of a take-private transaction led by current management.

“The path to maximizing the value of Hudson’s Bay lies in its real estate, not its retail brands. In our view, the whole time the company’s management has been struggling to navigate this complicated maze of M&A options, the answer lies in its own real estate portfolio.”