The Once and Future Company
Welcome to the inaugural post of The Adventure Continues, a blog written by HBC’s Corporate Historian. What better way to celebrate the redesign of the HBC Heritage website than with the launch of a new feature!
So, already some of you are asking: Really? A history blog? Well, why not? History is literally all around us, all the time. Today’s news is tomorrow’s history. But at HBC it’s also just the latest in a long line of events that leads back to 1670 and beyond. If you think that +343 years of Hudson’s Bay Company history provides more content than would ever be needed for this site, you’d be right. But our current history is at least as fascinating as any of the older material – and happening so fast that it’s sometimes hard to keep up.
Last November HBC returned to the stock market after an absence of six years. Six years is a relatively short time, especially in the life of an institution that is fast approaching its 350th anniversary (in 2020). Yet for all but those six years HBC has been publicly held. That’s an amazing fact, and one that links the Company to the very beginning of modern business and the idea of the joint stock corporation. Viewed from this perspective, HBC’s hiatus as a private entity seems almost a historical footnote. And it would be, except for the changes those six crucial years have wrought.
HBC has undergone a profound transformation, one that has touched every aspect of the business. It’s leaner, smarter, more focused, more dynamic, more responsive, more accountable. In a word, more businesslike. Moreover, there is a new and clearly articulated vision underpinning it all. Customers have noticed and are delighted with what they see. They’ve always had a great affection for this company and its unique relationship with Canada. Now, with more and more of what they want, it’s easier for them to demonstrate that affection. Which they do all the time: if you need proof, just check out the popularity of our stripes.
Along with offering brands like Topshop/Topman, Kiehl’s, Burberry and the hotly-anticipated Kleinfeld Bridal (debuting in 2014), HBC has also recognized the value of its historic roots. A decade after the launch of its HBC Signature private brand label, the revamped HBC Collections are bigger, better and more widely available than ever: in-store, online, and now in specialty shops at the country’s two largest airports, Toronto and Vancouver.
What this means for Canada’s oldest business is simple: the spirit of the original Company is alive and well. Truly, the adventure continues.