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End of an era: The first mall-based Hudson’s Bay is shutting down in Burnaby

Hudson's Bay Co. shaped Lougheed Town Centre as we know it.

A Canadian department store that shaped land use and traffic patterns in what became Burnaby’s Lougheed Town Centre more than 50 years ago is closing down.

Customers shopping at Hudson’s Bay in Lougheed Mall over the weekend were met with closing sale signage: “This store is permanently closing.”

The department store will close officially in December this year, according to spokesperson Tiffany Bourré.

From the beginning, the shopfront was unique as it was Hudson’s Bay's first location in a mall, but the path there was filled with complications.

A short history of Hudson’s Bay at Lougheed Mall

If it weren’t for the Bay, Lougheed Mall wouldn’t have been built.

When the mall was first planned in the mid-1960s, the city specifically took “great care” to ensure the shopping centre was supported “by at least one prestige department store,” according to a staff report from 1967.

Burnaby city council refused to rezone the 30 acres of farmland on North Road until one of those department stores signed on to the project.

Council delayed rezoning the land while the Bay negotiated with the mall developers, Great West Saddlery Ltd., a Manitoba leather goods business that made saddles for the Royal North-West Mounted Police turned Alberta real estate, construction and retail conglomerate.

Council proceeded with the mall development only when the Bay “indicated by telegram that it would be in the proposed new centre.”

With those assurances put into a legal agreement in 1965, council and the developers began “a great deal of work” to rezone the land, plan the roads and buy the properties.

But two years later, the Bay withdrew from the mall development and “irrevocably terminated” its lease agreement with the shopping centre.

“Several reasons were given for this action, which are a matter between Rupert’s Land Trading Company (the Bay’s real estate arm at the time) and the Lougheed Mall Shopping Centre,” Burnaby’s municipal manager said in the report.

The city expressed its frustration to Hudson’s Bay executives.

“The decision to locate a major shopping centre on North Road had triggered many changes in the land use pattern and road pattern in this section of the municipality which had reached a point of no return, and … it is imperative that a major shopping centre go on this site,” the city manager said.

The city manager said the executive for the Bay was “fully sympathetic” to the city’s situation and expressed a “continued interest” in the Bay establishing its first shopping centre store in the Lougheed area of Burnaby – if certain undisclosed criteria were met.

By 1968, the Bay was heralded as the mall’s main anchor tenant.

It was the Bay’s first location in a shopping centre when it opened in August 1969 – and it was an impressive boutique.

The design and décor cost $1 million (almost $8 million in today’s dollars), and the store opened with 200 employees, according to the Vancouver Sun on Sept. 23, 1969.

Lougheed Hudson’s Bay closure

Founded in 1670 as a fur-trading business, Hudson's Bay is the oldest company in North America.

The firm, now owned by parent company HBC, bills itself as a premier North American retailer with a portfolio of real estate assets.

Bourré, the Hudson’s Bay spokesperson, said: “HBC continually looks at opportunities to optimize its real estate portfolio. After careful consideration, Hudson’s Bay has made the decision to close its Lougheed location.”

Bourré said “transfer opportunities” for Lougheed store employees “will be explored where feasible.”

The Bay’s three surrounding stores at Metrotown, Coquitlam Centre and Guildford Town Centre in Surrey will remain open.

The Lougheed Hudson’s Bay is now selling its merchandise at discount prices; store fixtures are also for sale.

The NOW has reached out to Shape Properties Corp., the current owner and developer of the City of Lougheed, for details on the future of the 125,400 sq. ft. leased shopfront and is waiting to hear back.

There are currently 85 Hudson’s Bay brick-and-mortar stores, according to HBC.com, down from 89 stores in February 2019.

Hudson’s Bay Co. has laid off 500 corporate employees this year.

The last public reporting period showed Hudson’s Bay made $5.47 billion in retail sales as of November 2019’s third quarter.

In 2021, the company separated its brick-and-mortar stores as "Hudson's Bay" from its online e-commerce brand "The Bay.”

Formerly a public company, Hudson's Bay went private in March 2020.

lvanderdeen@burnabynow.com
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