Is the US department store as we know it dying off? Many big department stores appear to be struggling. Now, Lord & Taylor, an iconic NY company, have confirmed that they’re closing doors on 10 of their stores.
This includes their flagship store on Fifth Avenue, an integral part of the famous NYC street. The company previously boasted an incredible 50 stores and four outlets. The business dates back as far as 1824 when it began as a store selling hosiery and cashmere shawls for women.
Lord & Taylor is currently owned by Canada-based Hudson’s Bay Co. They have just confirmed the sad down-sizing news. Lord & Taylor have occupied the Fifth Avenue space since 1914, but Hudson’s Bay Co. made a deal last October to sell the building.
According to Bloomberg, they signed the building over to We Work for $850 million but had planned to continue leasing the space to keep the Lord & Taylor flagship at its historical home.
Now, the company claim Lord & Taylor will instead focus on their digital strategy, with less focus on physical store space. A representative commented that: “exiting this iconic space reflects Lord & Taylor’s increasing focus on its digital opportunity and HBC’s commitment to improving profitability.”
The company believes that by cutting back on store space, they have a much great chance of turning around the business for the future: “The actions we have taken show that we are serious about improving results and better positioning HBC to deliver profitable growth.”
The Lord & Taylor Flagship Sinks
Photo: HBC Heritage
Lord & Taylor are known as one of the first American department stores. This is thanks to their gorgeous Fifth Avenue flagship, where they began the brand as we know it and have called home since 1914. The company opened the store’s doors on February 24th of that year, and have been in operation ever since. The iconic building itself has undergone several renovations but remains a recognizable and famous building as part of Manhattan. So much so, that in 2007, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission named it an official landmark of the city.
The closing of the flagship will mark some big changes for the brand. No longer with a physical flagship store, they will remove some of the glamour and excitement surrounding the brand that has been building for over 100 years. 9 other stores will close, all throughout 2019. Hudson’s Bay explained their decision further: “After evaluating best use scenarios for its New York City Fifth Avenue location, the Company has decided not to maintain a presence at this location following the turnover of the building to WeWork.”
According to CNBC, this is following the company’s report of a net loss of $314 million Canadian dollars for the fiscal first quarter.
A Historical Fashion Brand
Lord & Taylor helped to define what women wore and were an integral part of the NYC fashion scene, particularly in the first half of the 20th century.
Stocking reputable and innovative fashion brands, and giving greater access to new types of clothing, women flocked to their stores to get an elegant and cutting-edge style. This included a range of lavish evening dresses, accessories, shoes, and bags. They dressed the most glamorous and exciting women living in New York City.
In more recent years, the brand appeared to appeal to a more mature market. Now, as it switches to a digital focus, the historical company with such a huge legacy is entering a fresh era. It is setting out to begin a new direction and revamp the brand entirely.
The company will aim to change its stores to encourage a younger, more digital-savvy generation to shop their online products. With less physical locations, the switch is necessary. A younger audience can help bring new life to this brand, one which can once again bounce back to its former glory.
Change is already beginning, as Walmart have just announced that they will begin to sell Lord & Taylor products via their own website.
Walmart announced that the Lord & Taylor flagship store would now move online, finding a new home on Walmart’s online store. 125 brands previously found at the Lord & Taylor flagship store would now be available via Walmart. RJ Cilley, SVP of Digital at Lord & Taylor explained the dramatic move: “This innovative flagship on Walmart.com is an entirely new model for us and demonstrates the evolution of Lord & Taylor and our commitment to advancing our digital presence.”
This instantly gives the brand a whole new market to play with and is a beacon of hope for the turn-around needed to see the store back as part of Manhattan once again.