The Biggest Challenge for Hudson’s Bay’s New CEO? Deciding What Not to Do

Hudson’s Bay certainly isn’t a new company, but it does have a fairly new CEO with some new ideas for the company.

Helena Foulkes has been at the helm of Hudson’s Bay less than a year and she’s already made several moves to push the company into a new era. Hudson’s Bay, which owns Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, was founded in 1670, and–in Foulkes’s mind–it has a bit of catching up to do.

“I think the thing that has been hardest is deciding what not to do,” Foulkes said Monday at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit in Montreal. “There were a lot of opportunities when I arrived and big decisions to be made, and almost every night I left saying, ‘Wow, I seen an opportunity there, there, there. And I had to pace myself and my team to decide which things mattered the most and what I could put to the side.’”

Since taking over in February, Foulkes sold off the remaining part of Lord & Taylor’s flagship New York store (a large part of the retail space was already sold prior to Foulkes’s tenure), she sold off Gilt Group, and entered into a joint venture with the company’s biggest competitor in Europe.

Foulkes said on Tuesday that Hudson’s Bay and Saks have had strong performances. Lord & Taylor, meanwhile, is need of some revitalizing.

“Lord & Taylor is a business where our shoppers, they love it. The problem is there aren’t enough of them,” Foulkes noted.

She also touted Hudson’s Bay’s digital presence, but admits there’s still room for improvement. However, she’s not worried the 348-year-old company is danger of falling the way of other ill-fated retailers like Sears.

“Here’s a great example of what not to do,” Foulkes said she told her staff upon news of Sears’ bankruptcy filing. “I think it’s a really interesting example of a company that prided itself on its amazing real estate, but forgot to be a great retailer for its customers, and at the end of the day that’s what matters.”

Fortune

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