Watros Promoted to Hudson’s Bay President

by Harry Sheff

Hudson's Bay Company Hudson’s Bay Company COO Donald Watros has been promoted to president of HBC, a new role with more responsibilities effective February 1, 2014. He will continue to report to CEO Richard Baker. No one has yet been named to succeed Watros as COO.

Baker and Watros will continue to run HBC and its businesses through the Office of the Chairman, a management structure Baker created this fall.

“Don Watros’ role as president is integral to a new, robust leadership structure that will focus on managing and growing HBC along with its strong and expanding portfolio of brands,” said Baker. “Don’s significant retail experience combined with his track record of operational excellence were key in selecting him for this important role and will further our development as a premier North American fashion retailer.”

Watros has been COO at HBC since 2009 and before that he worked with Baker at NRDC Equity Partners. He was chief administrative officer at Saks until 2005 when he and two other executives were forced to resignhas also served amidst an SEC markdown investigation. (That investigation was settled in 2007 with Saks receiving no penalties and admitting no wrongdoing.) Watros has also held positions at May Department Stores.

“I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with Richard and our exceptional team to drive the future growth and value of HBC and our individual banners,” Watros said in a statement. “As a veteran of both HBC and Saks, I will pay particular attention to integrating and delivering on the exciting promise of our merger, while also helping to support all our retail brands and shared services units and to guide the progress of the company overall.”

HBC, which operates the Hudson’s Bay department store chain in Canada and Lord & Taylor in the U.S., acquired Saks Inc. for $2.9 billion in July. Since then, CEO Steve Sadove and president Ron Frasch have left the company and former Harrod’s chief merchant Marigay McKee was named as the new president of Saks. Saks Off Fifth president Robert Wallstrom has also left the company; he has not been replaced yet.

HBC operates 90 Hudson’s Bay stores and 69 Home Outfitters stores in Canada and 49 Lord & Taylor, 41 Saks Fifth Avenue and 72 Saks Off Fifth store in the U.S. There are also five Saks Fifth Avenue stores under license outside North America.