Zellers Ltd was founded in London, Ontario on August 4, 1928. After years of working for Metropolitan Stores, F.W. Woolworth Company, and Kresge’s, its founder, Walter P. Zeller, opened his new store and headquarters at 176 Dundas Street. This planned store would be part of a Canadian department store chain. The intention was to open stores in London, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Fort William, and Saint John, New Brunswick, at the outset. The London store has a 53-foot street frontage and a 137-foot depth.On the main floor, there was a total of 7,000 square feet of space, with 2,000 square feet of counter space spread out across the store. For the first day, sixty women were employed to work in 21 different departments. Zellers was purchased out by the American firm Schulte-United Ltd after only a few months of operation. The rebranded stores went bankrupt after two years. In late 1931, Walter Zeller purchased the majority of the failing Schulte businesses and reopened Zellers. 176 Dundas Street was the location of Zellers Department Store until the late 1980s.
Early years, cooperation with W.T. Grant, 1930s–1960s
The Toronto Star published an advertising for Zellers’ grand opening in Toronto in 1931. The previously announced location was later absorbed into the Toronto Eaton Centre.
Walter P. Zeller launched the company in 1931 as a chain of thrifty Canadian stores.
The chain started with the purchase of Schulte-fourteen United’s Canadian outlets, all of which were in Southern Ontario. Zellers launched an aggressive expansion strategy almost immediately. Zellers grew to 60 stores and 3,000 employees in just 25 years. It bought the Federal Stores chain of variety outlets in 1952 to expand into Atlantic Canada, adding more than 100 stores.
Zellers signed a contract with W.T. Grant, a similar chain of American mass goods department stores, during this phase of expansion. W.T. Grant was able to purchase 10% of Zellers’ shares under this scheme, finally gaining 51 percent ownership in 1959. In exchange, the Grant Company made its merchandising, real estate, shop development, and general administrative expertise accessible to Zellers. Employees from Zellers and Grant were dispatched to Grant’s stores and headquarters for training, and the two companies shared shopping excursions to East Asia. The chain began adding new stores again in the 1950s, and its first self-serve branch opened in 1956 at the Norgate shopping centre in Saint-Laurent, Quebec.
Field and HBC acquisitions in the 1970s and 1980s
The retailer was known as Zeller’s until 1973. (or Zeller in Quebec).
The apostrophe was omitted from the company’s name that year, and it became Zellers. In 1975, Zellers switched to its current logo, which it would keep for the next 45 years. Zellers had grown to 155 outlets by 1976, with yearly sales of $407 million.
Despite Zellers’ success, W.T. Grant faced fierce competition in the United States and was compelled to abandon its Canadian operations entirely. Fields, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based clothing company, attempted to buy a 50.1 percent share in Zellers for $32,675,000 in 1976.Unhappy with the prospect of Zellers becoming a subsidiary of Fields, Zellers’ shareholders reversed the buyout and bought Fields and its hardware store division, Marshall Wells. The company gained 70 Fields locations and 162 Marshall Wells franchises as a result of the sale. Joseph Segal, the president and creator of Fields, has been named president of Zellers.
In June 1978, Zellers made an offer to purchase the Hudson’s Bay Company in its entirety (HBC). Instead, HBC management decided to buy Zellers because of its profitability and potential to enter a new retail area. HBC preserved Zellers and Fields, which operate in quite distinct retail segments, intact and established as separate entities. Zellers and Fields was fully owned by HBC in 1981, while Marshall Wells was fully owned by HBC in 1982. Marshall Wells was sold for $20 million by HBC in 1985 because it was no longer relevant to the company’s department store operations. In the 1980s, Zellers also succeeded in becoming Canada’s largest retailer.
In the 1980s, counterfeit Atari 2600 video games were created in Taiwan and sold by Zellers, usually with new names and artwork and occasionally with modified graphics. All of the games were pirated versions of titles made by Atari or third-party producers like Activision. Atari eventually compelled Zellers to discontinue the sale of these games. In the early 1980s and 1990s, Zellers released 18 games for the Atari 2600: Acquisitions in the future.
Additional purchases in the 1990s
The Oshawa Group sold the 51 Towers/Bonimart stores to Hudson’s Bay Company in 1990, and the majority of them were transformed to Zellers stores, including the flagship store in Toronto. Both the Towers mascot, Sparky, and the Zellers mascot, Zeddy, walked arm in arm in ads at the time. Zellers’ tagline during this time was “the lowest price is the law.”
The assets of the insolvent Woodward’s chain, including 21 retail locations, were purchased by Hudson’s Bay Company in 1993. These were turned into Zellers and The Bay stores, and the company’s presence in Western Canada was considerably enlarged. In 1998, Hudson’s Bay Company bought Kmart’s Canadian division and merged it with Zellers’ to form a larger integrated chain known as Zellers. While some Kmart facilities were shuttered, many others were converted into full-fledged Zellers stores.
The Zellers headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, was closed in 1996 and amalgamated with the Hudson’s Bay Company offices in downtown Toronto. After Zellers acquired Kmart’s Canadian headquarters in Brampton, Ontario, Hudson’s Bay Company recovered a Zellers head office by 1998.
The Decades of the 2000s:
Jerry Zucker, a South Carolina businessman, purchased Hudson’s Bay Company on February 28, 2006. Zellers had 291 locations and lost $107 million on $4.2 billion in sales in Hudson’s Bay Business’s final year as a publicly traded company.
In 2008, Mark Foote, who had previously headed general merchandise at Loblaw Companies and served as president of Canadian Tire Corp’s retail division, was named President and CEO of Zellers, and he was credited with stabilising the chain, despite the fact that it still faced competition from Walmart Canada.
Following Zucker’s death in 2008, the Hudson’s Bay Company and its subsidiaries, including Zellers, were purchased by NRDC Equity Partners, a New York-based firm led by Richard Baker.
Richard Baker was the CEO of NRDC Equity Partners. Lord & Taylor, an upscale specialised retail department store chain in the United States, is owned by NRDC. Following that, NRDC made a significant investment in The Bay and helped it come back by reinventing it as an upscale, fashion-forward boutique. The Zellers chain, on the other hand, was still in trouble and was considered as a burden on the parent firm and its American owner.
2011–2013: Lease acquisitions by Target, liquidation and closures
Target Corporation of the United States stated on January 13, 2011, that it would pay $1.825 billion for the lease agreements of up to 220 Zellers stores. Zellers agreed to sublet the properties and continue to operate them as Zellers sites until at least January 2012, and no later than the end of March 2013. Zellers had 273 stores at the time of the announcement, far fewer than the 350 it had in 1999.
Following the news, it was announced that once the Zellers stores in these areas closed, Target will remodel 100 to 150 of them and reopen them as Target shops in 2013 and 2014. Other retailers would take over the remaining acquired sites. HBC had previously stated that the remaining Zellers stores would be operated as a smaller network in individual communities.
Target bought 105 Zellers sites out of a total of 220 in late May 2011 and another 84 locations in late September 2011, bringing the total number of Zellers stores owned by Target to 189. 125–135 of the 189 stores would be turned into Target locations,. The other 15–25 leases were either sold to other retailers or returned to the landlords who control the sites. 39 others were resold to Walmart Canada, while the remaining 15–25 leases were either sold to other retailers or returned to the landlords who hold the sites. Because several of RioCan REIT’s mall holdings feature Zellers outlets, the company suffered a considerable loss.
Furthermore, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union intended to organise protests since many Zellers employees will be laid off rather than retained by Target or Walmart. This was in stark contrast to Walmart’s 1994 acquisition of Woolco, when all Woolco staff from the acquired stores were kept. You can also check out our website https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeddy – zeddy
Mark Foote, the President and CEO of Zellers, had a mission to sell the 273 Zellers stores by October 2011 in order to prepare the company for Target’s purchase. Foote’s plan was to follow a retail liquidation model, but without the insolvency and despair that beset failing chains. Foote prioritised increasing profitability above loss leaders like apparel and drastically discounted paper towels and detergent, even if it meant losing market share and reducing shop visitation, by increasing inventory levels of better margin commodities over loss leaders like fashion and slashing costs. Foote also ditched the costly fall television ad campaign in favour of a Facebook social media blitz. According to reports, the technique was working.
The first 50 Zellers stores were liquidated in March 2012. This includes all 39 Zellers locations that were set to be converted into Walmart stores. The latter venues were closed to the public by mid-June. On June 25, 2012, 17 more Ontario stores went into liquidation.
On July 26, 2012, the Hudson’s Bay Company stated that it would close the majority of the 64 remaining Zellers locations. According to a corporate spokeswoman, these stores employ 6,400 workers, or around 100 per location, and range in size from 48,000 to 128,000 square feet, with the majority of them located in small towns.The stores were scheduled to close no later than March 31, 2013, which corresponded with the HBC’s deadline to leave the Target-acquired locations. The lack of profitability at Zellers was the primary reason for the HBC’s decision to close the remaining 64 stores. The HBC also stated that keeping Zellers as a going concern would be impossible due to the remaining 64 stores’ geographical positions. The HBC does not rule out the prospect of some stores remaining operational and being converted into The Bay or Home Outfitters locations.
After the Target Corporation agreement, HBC still owes half of the $226.4 million in Zellers lease commitments until 2016, with the rent for 2012 accounting for over half of HBC’s adjusted profit. HBC had either terminated these liabilities with landlords at substantial discounts or found new tenants to rent the space as it prepared an initial public offering in late 2012.
The final words On December 26, 2012, Zellers stores began their liquidation sale, and on January 31, 2013, the firm ceased taking returns. Almost all of Zellers’ stock, store fixtures, and shopping carts were sold at a discount by Liquidators.
The reopened Zellers storefront at Bells Corners, Ottawa.
In January 2013, HBC re-evaluated their strategy and chose to keep three Zellers locations operational after March 31, 2013.
The store at Place Bourassa in Montreal North, Quebec, was one of the first, however it closed in early 2014. A previously shuttered Zellers in Nepean, Ontario, took its place, reopening on April 3, 2014, bringing the total number of locations to three.
The last Zellers store in Western Canada, at Semiahmoo Shopping Centre in Surrey, British Columbia, closed in September 2014, leaving only two outlets nationwide: Kipling Queensway Mall in Etobicoke, Ontario, and Bells Corners in Nepean, Ontario. By January 26, 2020, both locations have closed.
These businesses were no longer inexpensive department stores, but rather liquidation centres for sibling company The Bay.
Fashion items and a refined home product offering, as well as more from other HBC banners, are featured at these sites, according to HBC communications manager Tiffany Bourré.