Fields Holding Company (FHC), the organization created to acquire Fields stores from Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), has dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on an agreement to assume ownership and control of 57 Fields stores as of May 1.
The holding company was formed by McFrugals owner Jason MacDougall and a group of (to date) anonymous entrepreneurs to acquire the assets of several Fields stores, including both stores in the Northwest Territories and 20 locations in Alberta (seven more than were confirmed by HBC in March). The deal was originally expected to be for 59 of the 167 Fields stores that HBC is closing down by fall 2012.
Rebecca Johnston, spokesperson for FHC, confirmed that FHC and HBC completed the acquisition agreement on April 6. Under the agreement, the 57 Fields stores will operate under the HBC banner until April 30 before switching to FHC control and ownership on May 1. FHC will either assume existing storefront leases or enter into new leases with landlords at each location. The stores will continue to operate under the Fields name.
“We want to ensure that people can get what they need in their local communities without having to travel,” Johnston said.
The store inventory and fixtures will shift to FHC’s ownership, as will the Fields brand. The company has plans to improve the merchandise selection in each store, making the inventory more applicable to each geography (such as stocking fewer snow shovels in Parksville, BC on Vancouver Island and more snow gear in northern stores).
Since ownership of the stores is switching over, Fields staff must re-apply for their positions. Johnston said staff are already being asked to fill out job application forms. FHC expects to offer as many jobs as possible to former HBC staff, but Johnston could not comment on whether staffing levels will change in any way.
Stores soon to be under FHC management include locations in Hay River and Fort Smith in the NWT, and La Crete, Manning, Valleyview, Grimshaw, Grande Cache, High Level, Athabasca, Boyle, Lac La Biche, High Prairie, Wetaskiwin, Westlock, Hanna, Fairview, Spirit River, Coronation, Barrhead, Elk Point, St. Paul and Mayerthorpe in Alberta.