Hudson’s Bay Co. is closing its remaining two Zellers stores, eight years after announcing plans to sell the majority of its Zellers leases to Target Corp. A Zellers shop in Etobicoke, Ont., and another in Ottawa will close in early 2020, according to HBC.
The announcement has caused consternation and nostalgia among Canadians, many of whom fondly recall the quirky department store brand but assumed it had long since vanished.
Here are five questions (and answers) about Zellers’ final exit that you might have.
I thought Zellers had closed down years ago. What’s the deal with these two spots?
When HBC and Target announced their $1.8 billion merger in 2011, the Canadian retailer also stated that all Zellers outlets not purchased by Target would close by March 2013.
However, three locations remained open across the country: one in Montreal (which closed in 2014), one in Etobicoke, and one in Surrey, British Columbia (which also later closed).
According to HBC representative Tiffany Bourré, the Ottawa shop was temporarily closed but eventually reopened.
According to Lisa Hutcheson, a retail specialist and managing partner at J.C. Williams Group, the remaining shops have operated as liquidators for things that didn’t sell out at The Bay.
Why are the last two Zellers stores closing right now?
Bourré noted in an emailed statement to BNN Bloomberg that HBC assessed the stores’ “performance and other considerations” and determined that closing the two sites was “essential.”
Despite having nothing to do with the Zellers closures, the company has been shrinking its global reach in recent years in order to focus on two important assets: Saks Fifth Avenue and Hudson’s Bay.
HBC announced plans to sell Lord & Taylor in August and reaffirmed plans to leave the Netherlands last month.
How many employees will be impacted by the Zellers store closures?
A request for information regarding the number of employees affected by the closures was not immediately returned by HBC.
According to Bourré, eligible Zellers employees will get severance compensation, and some may be offered positions inside the HBC network.
What went wrong with Zellers?
Zellers began operations during the Great Depression and quickly expanded across Canada. Annual sales reached around half a billion dollars by the late 1970s, according to HBC’s History Foundation, and hit $1 billion in 1983.
Why did Zellers fail?
“Zellers was one of the first retailers to have a restaurant in the store,” Hutcheson said. “With Club Z, they had one of the first loyalty programmes, and then [they introduced] Zeddy, the teddy bear.”
The watershed moment occurred in 1994, when Walmart Inc. purchased 122 Woolco stores and opened its first Canadian locations.
According to Hutcheson, Zellers simply couldn’t compete with Walmart’s extensive supply chain and strong brand.
“Walmart had better service levels, greeters, and they understood the customer,” she continued.
Zellers’ efforts to re-engage customers, such as the introduction of fresh food and exclusive brands, were futile. In 2011, HBC announced a deal with Target to sell the leases on 189 Zellers stores, and the company began the process of closing down.
Target eventually succumbed to the same fate as Zellers. Only two years after its inception, the American chain announced its exit from Canada and retreated across the border.
What became of Zeddy, the mascot?
Zeddy, Zellers’ beloved mascot, was ejected when the retailer announced plans to close the banner.
He was, technically, kicked into the woods.
Zeddy the bear was released into the wild as part of a popular final marketing campaign for the Zellers’ closing sale.
“But this was a domesticated bear,” said Angus Tucker, chief creative officer at advertising agency John St., in an interview with BNN Bloomberg. “He wasn’t built to survive in the Canadian wilderness.”
As a result, Zeddy and Zellers were bid farewell in a sometimes-nostalgic, always-wry manner. You can also check out our website https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeddy – zeddy
“Zellers was the only department store in many towns,” Tucker explained. “[The ad campaign] was, in some ways, like a two-year wake for the death of a brand.”
Fortunately, Zeddy was not forced to adapt to Canada’s harsh outdoor environment. Camp Trillium, a charity that provides recreational activities to families affected by childhood cancer, adopted him and renamed him “Barry.”