Canadian department store Zellers hopes to make a comeback next year, a decade after the discount chain shuttered most of its locations. Hudson’s Bay Co. says Zellers will debut a new e-commerce website and expand its brick-and-mortar footprint within select Hudson’s Bay department stores across the country in early 2023.
The company says the relaunched Zellers will offer “a digital-first shopping journey that taps into the nostalgia of the brand.”The return of Zellers comes as soaring inflation drives consumers to discount retailers in search of lower prices.
It also comes amid an ongoing lawsuit over a Quebec family’s use of the Zellers brand. The Moniz family is behind various recent trademark applications and corporate registries, including Zellers Inc., Zellers Convenience Store Inc. and Zellers Restaurant Inc. In a statement of claim filed in fall 2021, HBC accused the Moniz family of trademark infringement, depreciation of goodwill and so-called passing off — the deceptive marketing or misrepresentation of goods.
The Zellers department store was founded in 1931 and acquired by HBC in 1978. It operated as the discount division of its flagship Hudson’s Bay department stores, with the slogan “Where the lowest price is the law.”
The store hit its peak of about 350 locations in the late 1990s before losing ground to big box competitors such as Walmart. In 2011, HBC announced plans to sell the majority of its remaining Zellers leases to Target Corp., closing most stores by 2013. The retailer kept a handful of Zellers locations open as liquidation outlets until 2020.
The company launched a pop-up Zellers shop inside Hudson’s Bay department stores in Burlington, Ont., in 2020, and in Anjou, Que., in 2021.
“We know how special Zellers is in the hearts and minds of people in Canada,“ said Adam Powell, Zellers’ chief business officer. “Zellers is a brand deeply rooted in the Canadian experience.”
In Other HBC News, Hudson’s Bay is Teaming Up With Mountain Equipment Co.
Hudson’s Bay Co. is teaming up with Mountain Equipment Co. (MEC) to offer the outdoor retailer’s goods at three department stores and on its website. The partnership provides MEC with a stronger brick-and-mortar presence in the Toronto-area and online, while giving Hudson’s Bay access to the attractive outdoor recreation market, executives with both retailers said in an interview.
MEC said it plans to launch the shop-in-shops in Fall 2022 at Hudson’s Bay’s flagship department store on Queen St. as well as at the Yorkdale and Square One shopping centres. The shops will feature a selection of outdoor gear, footwear and apparel, with an extended offering of goods available on TheBay.com later in the season.
“For Hudson’s Bay it’s essentially a brand new category,” said Wayne Drummond, president of Hudson’s Bay. He added that the partnership brings MEC’s outdoor expertise to the department store.
MEC said its shops inside the department store will mirror the experience and expertise available at its 21 standalone stores.
“We agreed that this really has to be the legitimate MEC experience, which is MEC staffers,” said Eric Claus, CEO and chairman of MEC. Some of the staff will be transferred from existing stores, he said. “We’re already in the hiring process of people that are training in our stores,” Claus said.
The shops will feature MEC’s in-house label as well as popular outdoor brands like Scarpa, Salomon, the North Face and Black Diamond. A broader selection of MEC goods will be available through the department store’s online marketplace, Claus said.
MEC will be a third-party seller on the Bay’s marketplace, which means goods will be sold and shipped directly by MEC through the Bay’s website. Hudson’s Bay opened its website to third-party sellers in the spring of 2021, adding hundreds of new brands and thousands of items to its online assortment of products. “The marketplace initiative has been going extremely well in the past year,” Drummond said. “We surpassed the $1-billion mark in demand on TheBay.com.”