Hudson's Bay Company invests in new comms team amid international expansion

The company bought Galeria Kaufhof last summer to expand into Europe and acquired online retailer Gilt early this year.

(Image via Hudson's Bay's Facebook page. Photo credit: Leslie Woods, wrgmag.com).
(Image via Hudson's Bay's Facebook page. Photo credit: Leslie Woods, wrgmag.com).

TORONTO: With ambitious growth plans in mind, Hudson’s Bay Company has established a corporate communications and PR division to help it spread the word across geographies and customer segments.

It promoted Andrew Blecher to SVP of corporate communications and PR to lead the unit, it said this week. The group will oversee brand PR, as well as corporate, global, and internal communications. The team is part of the retailer’s Centers of Excellence initiative.

Blecher was previously SVP of PR and events.

"The different communications teams used to report to the various business units," he explained. "Now we have a communications division. But I wouldn’t call it a consolidation; that implies something else. This is more about bringing everyone together. I’ll be setting the agenda."

Following a pair of acquisitions since mid-2015, Blecher said the company is focused on integration.

Last summer, HBC purchased Galeria Kaufhof for $3.2 billion to expand operations into Europe. To kick off 2016, it acquired online retailer Gilt in a $250 million deal with plans to integrate Gilt into Saks Off 5th.   

"It’s about getting our message of diversity out across different geographical areas and consumer segments," Blecher said. "We’ve also partnered with investor relations and everyone else to make sure we have a strong corporate message. Traditionally all our [brands] have grown through acquisitions. For communications, it means leveraging our talent across the organization so we can go after media. We have a strong opportunity for synergy across the organization and [brands]."

He added that the company plans to create and fill positions in the division. Tiffany Bourré, director of external communications at Hudson’s Bay, said the company wasn’t ready to say what positions it will develop.

"The first few weeks are really about organizing the team, setting the agenda, and getting the right people in place," Blecher said.

Blecher started his career in PR at Saks Fifth Avenue about 15 years ago, then left the company for four years for a leadership position at Lividini and Co. PR, where Hudson’s Bay was the firm’s lead client. The retailer eventually acquired Saks and hired Blecher as SVP of PR and events in 2014, his most recent position, the company said in a statement.

Hudson’s Bay, founded in 1670, claims to be the oldest company in North America. It operates in six countries with 160 locations and 66,000 employees worldwide.

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