Key dates in the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company (TSE:HBC):
1666: French explorers Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Medard Chouart travel to London with tales of wilderness riches and attain the sponsorship of Prince Rupert, cousin of King Charles II. Four years later they bring their first cargo of fur to England from the Hudson Bay region.
May 2, 1670: King Charles grants The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson’s Bay a monopoly over the vast region whose rivers end at Hudson Bay.
1779: After a century of building forts and exploring and trading inland and northward, the company gets a competitor: the North West Co. of Montreal.
1780: The iconic Hudson’s Bay point blanket is produced for the first time.
1821: HBC and North West Co. merge under the Hudson’s Bay name, with 173 trading posts in 7.8 million square kilometres of land.
1869: The company’s territory, Prince Rupert’s Land, is turned over to the government of Canada, in exchange for Prairie land and 300,000 pounds in cash.
Early 1900s: Hudson’s Bay continues expansion by building a chain of stores in western Canada.
1960: The company begins eastward expansion by taking over Montreal-based Morgan’s department stores, converting Ontario locations to The Bay banner but leaving Quebec stores as Morgan’s until 1972.
1964: Hudson’s Bay Co. stores are rebranded under The Bay banner.
1978: The company acquires the Zellers discount chain.
1979: Hudson’s Bay expands further with the acquisition of Simpsons department stores. HBC itself is bought by the Thomson family, outbidding George Weston Ltd. for a 75 per cent share of the business.
1987: The company sells its northern stores division and officially stops dealing in the fur pelts.
1990: Towers stores are added to the retail portfolio under the Zellers banner.
1993: HBC acquires Woodward’s stores in B.C. and Alberta and converts most to Bay or Zellers locations.
1997: Thomson family relinquishes ownership of the company
2003: U.S. businessman Jerry Zucker starts accumulating holdings in HBC, and two years later bids $1.1 billion to acquire the company, making it a private enterprise.
April 12, 2008: Zucker dies after a battle with cancer.
July 16, 2008: New York-based NRDC Equity Partners, owner of American department store chain Lord & Taylor, buys Hudson’s Bay, with plans to expand its brand into Canada and give a fresh approach to both The Bay and Zellers outlets.
Jan. 13, 2011: Hudson’s Bay Co. sells leasing rights to the majority of its Zellers locations to Minnesota-based Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) for $1.83 billion.
January 2012: Hudson’s Bay Co. assumes operations of Lord and Taylor stores in the U.S. Both brands remain under the ownership of parent company NRDC Equity Partners.
Nov. 26, 2012: Hudson’s Bay Co. becomes a public company once again with the closure of a $365 million public offering. Shares are traded on the TSX under the symbol HBC.
Jul. 29, 2013: The company announces a US$2.9 billion deal to acquire U.S. luxury retailer Saks. About seven full-line Saks stores and roughly two dozen discount location will operate in Canada.