Lord & Taylor, the nearly 200-year-old department store, will close its flagship Manhattan location, which is housed in a landmarked Fifth Avenue building.
Women's Wear Daily reports that parent company, the Hudson's Bay Co., is "suffer[ing] same-store sales declines across most of its divisions" and "pressing ahead with trimming costs and its stores... HBC revealed the planned closure of the L&T flagship as the group reported a net loss of 400 million Canadian dollars, or $308 million, for the first quarter ended May 5, compared to a 221 million Canadian dollars, or $170 million, in the year ago period."
Last year, Hudson's Bay sold the building to WeWork for $850 million, with the co-working behemoth looking to make the location its headquarters. When that deal was announced, the NY Times reported, "Lord & Taylor will rent the bottom floors, redesigning them into a smaller version of its department store."
"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 turnover of the building to WeWork. Exiting this iconic space reflects Lord & Taylor's increasing focus on its digital opportunity and HBC's commitment to improving profitability," a Hudson's Bay press release states.
Now it's unclear whether Lord & Taylor will have a NYC presence (or charming holiday windows); Hudson's Bay is closing another 9 stores. The company's CEO Helena Foulkes said, "We will take advantage of having a smaller footprint to rethink the model and focus on our digital opportunities. The Lord & Taylor flagship on Walmart.com, which launched last week, is a great example of this and represents how we are thinking about the entire business."
The power of online shopping has made a major dent in many retail stores' prospects. Tim Grumbacher, who liquidated his 262 Bon-Ton department stores, told the Wall Street Journal, "If I had had the foresight to realize I had to blow up the [department store] model, I would have." In an interview, he said "he would have subleased space to other companies, added more services like blow-dry bars and narrowed the product assortment. He says consumers don’t want to shop in cavernous department stores anymore."
At a shareholder presentation last summer, Macy's announced it would add a roof deck to its Herald Square store, to entice shoppers to linger.