Downtown Winnipeg’s iconic Hudson’s Bay store closed for good as of Monday, company says

The Hudson’s Bay Company says it’s closing its downtown Winnipeg location for good as of Monday, months ahead of when the company originally planned to pull the plug on the iconic city landmark.

Earlier this year, the Hudson’s Bay Company announced it would be closing the store at Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard in February 2021, but on Monday the company confirmed those plans had changed thanks to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Read more: Hudson’s Bay to close downtown Winnipeg location

“In light of recently announced restrictions on non-essential retail by the Government of Manitoba, we have made the decision to close this location today,” said HBC spokesperson, Tiffany Bourré in an email late Monday.

The Manitoba government forced many non-essential retail outlets to close Nov. 12 in an effort to curb a surge in COVID-19 cases.

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Click to play video 'The Bay in downtown Winnipeg closing' The Bay in downtown Winnipeg closing

The Bay in downtown Winnipeg closing – Oct 2, 2020

When the company first announced plans to close the store in October, it said the decision was made due to “shifting consumer behaviour and changes to how and where customers are shopping.”

“While these decisions are difficult, they are the right ones for our business and reflect customer preferences,” the company said in a statement back in October.

Read more: Hudson’s Bay should invite more retailers to fill space in iconic Winnipeg building: Business expert

“All eligible associates will receive appropriate employment separation packages and transfer opportunities will be explored where feasible.”

The Polo Park and St. Vital locations will remain open, Bourré said Monday.

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The Hudson’s Bay Company first opened the downtown Winnipeg store to shoppers in 1926 and the building received a heritage designation from the city in 2019.

The company’s decision to shutter the store in October left many wondering what could occupy the iconic six-floor department store, but so far, no plans have been announced.

Read more: Heritage Winnipeg sees opportunity in dismal financial appraisal of downtown Bay building

An appraisal of the building, done last year by Cushman & Wakefield for the Hudson’s Bay Company, valued the nearly 100-year-old building at $0 if it were to be leased back to the company.

Cushman & Wakefield found with a little more than $91 million in upgrades, the building’s value would increase to $8 million if leased to a single tenant.

Click to play video 'Retailers block off non-essentials' Retailers block off non-essentials

Retailers block off non-essentials – Nov 20, 2020

With a little more than $111 million in improvements that value would jump to just shy of $10.8 million if leased to multiple tenants.

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Bourré said Monday the company remains open to working with the city and partners to find opportunities for the building.

Read more: ‘A flood of ideas’ already being discussed for soon-to-be vacated Bay building

“The historic building has been a landmark in Winnipeg for generations,” Bourré  said.

“We remain committed to working with partners to find opportunities for this location that will have a positive impact on the community.”

— With files from Anya Nazeravich and Kevin Hirschfield

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‘Don’t game the system’ Pallister discusses Manitoba’s new ban on in-store sales of non-essential items – Nov 19, 2020

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