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Hudson's Bay in selling mood

TORONTO -- After selling its downtown department store in Toronto, Hudson's Bay Co. executives are looking for other locations to put on the market.

Chief executive Richard Baker said at the retailer's annual meeting on Tuesday the company is just "in the earliest stages" of unlocking value in its real estate holdings.

"One important distinction of our real estate portfolio compared to other retailers -- even those who also own millions of square feet -- is our concentration of value in several marquee assets," Baker told shareholders in a speech.

"We remain committed to surfacing the value of our real estate, which we believe is unappreciated by the market."

Last year, the company struck a $650-million deal to sell and lease back its Queen Street store and Simpson Tower office complex in Toronto, which are across the street from one of the city's biggest shopping malls, the Eaton Centre.

Baker said that agreement was "a glimpse into the power of our assets" and Hudson's Bay has several properties that could fetch a hefty price on the market.

While he didn't directly say any locations were for sale, Baker described the Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York City as the company's "crown jewel."

Across Canada, Hudson's Bay has 90 department stores, with several located in the bustling cores of the country's biggest cities, while there are 49 Lord & Taylor department stores across mostly the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States.

The Saks Fifth Avenue luxury brand has 39 department stores in the U.S.

In 2011, Hudson's Bay sold more than 200 Zellers locations in Canada to U.S. discounter Target as part of a $1.8-billion deal.

The move came as the company reworked its strategy to focus on what it says is a growing luxury goods market, which U.S. company Nordstrom also hopes to capture when it opens its first store in Calgary later this year.

 

FDA using salty language

WASHINGTON -- Food companies and restaurants in the United States could soon face government pressure to make their foods less salty -- a long-awaited federal effort to try to prevent thousands of deaths each year from heart disease and stroke.

The Food and Drug Administration is preparing voluntary guidelines asking the food industry to lower sodium levels, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg told The Associated Press. Hamburg said in a recent interview that sodium is "of huge interest and concern" to the agency.

"We believe we can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down, because the current level of consumption really is higher than it should be for health," Hamburg said.

It's still unclear when FDA will release the guidelines, despite its 2013 goal to have them completed this year.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 18, 2014 B5

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