Hudson's Bay names retail veteran as Zellers CEO

Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:29pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Hudson's Bay Co named Canadian retail veteran Mark Foote as chief executive of its Zellers discount chain on Wednesday, where he will try to revitalize stores and increase sales.

Foote, most recently president and chief merchandising officer at Loblaw Cos L.TO, Canada's biggest supermarket chain, starts work at Zellers in mid-August.

"Our focus will be on branded apparel, improved service along with the roll out of our new prototype stores," he said in a statement. There is a "tremendous opportunity to reposition Zellers."

Zellers, which has about 280 stores, faces growing competition from Wal-Mart Canada WMT.N.

Foote's appointment comes two weeks after Hudson's Bay, the storied Canadian retailer founded by fur traders in 1670, was acquired by U.S.-based NRDC Equity Partners. NRDC, which owns American department store chain Lord & Taylor, did not disclose the value of the deal.

Richard Baker, CEO of the combined firm Hudson's Bay Trading Co, said in a recent interview that Zellers could become a "more interesting and more exciting place to shop."

Better merchandising and more branded products could help achieve that goal, he told the Canadian Press news agency.

Foote also worked for more than 20 years at Canadian Tire Corp CTC.TO, the country's biggest auto parts and household goods retailer, including five years as president.

He helped develop new store formats and led a supply chain restructuring to improve merchandise stocking and service.

At Loblaw, Foote was replaced in April under a big executive shuffle. The grocer, six to nine months behind schedule in a restructuring that could take as much as five years, is overhauling its supply chain, closing some stores and cutting jobs.

(Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Rob Wilson)

<p>Pedestrians walk past a Hudson's Bay store in downtown Ottawa July 16, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>