|Traded as||OTCQB: BLKIA
|Founded||1888 (Monroe, North Carolina, USA)|
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina, USA|
|Number of locations||306 (June 2012)|
|Products||Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.|
|Revenue||$3.956 billion (FY 2013) |
Belk is a chain of mid-range department stores founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, N.C. It is the nation's largest family owned and operated department store company with 301 locations in 16 Southern states. The company is in the third generation of Belk family leadership. Belk stores and Belk.com offer national brands and private label fashion apparel, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, a wedding registry and home furnishings. Belk and its employees donate to local communities.
Founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, North Carolina--now a Charlotte suburb--the store was first called "New York Racket" and then "Belk Brothers," after Belk made his brother, Dr. John Belk, a physician, his partner.
By 1908, the company had moved its headquarters to Charlotte and built a giant flagship store on Trade and Tryon Streets in downtown Charlotte. That store was closed in 1988 to make way for what is now Bank of America Corporate Center and the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
The business grew steadily, relying on "bargain sales" and advertising to grow the business and increase its influence throughout the South.
Today, the chain is still family-operated (though it is publicly traded on the OTCBB market having both Class A and Class B common stock shares, according to a 2011 SEC proxy filing over 90 percent of the Class A stock is held by Belk family interests) and currently has 306 stores in 19 states, particularly in the Carolinas, along with the Atlanta and Birmingham metro areas. The Atlanta area now has the largest concentration of Belk stores in any of its markets. The westernmost Belk store is located in Kerrville, Texas; while the northernmost Belk is located in Westminster, Maryland and the southernmost Belk store is in Fort Myers, Florida. In 2006, Belk generated US$2.97 billion in sales and employed 17,900 people.
During the fourth quarter of 2005, Belk completed the sale of their private-label credit card division, Belk National Bank, to GE MoneyBank. Consumers were issued new Belk credit cards replacing the old ones issued by BNB. All new Belk cards are now issued by GE Money Bank.
On July 5, 2005, Belk completed the purchase of 47 Proffitt's and McRae's department stores from Saks Incorporated. Belk converted the 39 Proffitt's and McRae's stores to the Belk nameplate on March 8, 2006. Just over a year later, Belk purchased 38 Parisian department stores from Saks on October 2, 2006. Although most Parisian stores were converted to the Belk nameplate since September 12, 2007, some Parisian stores were closed in cases of duplicate stores in developments, such as the Parisian locations at The Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo, Mississippi, Richland Mall (then known as Midtown at Forest Acres) and Columbiana Centre in Columbia, South Carolina, and at Citadel Mall in Charleston, South Carolina. Four stores in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, plus a store under construction at the time in Michigan, were sold by Belk to The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc.
Even as Belk has made its recent acquisitions, the chain has operated limited electronic commerce on its website, and those websites acquired and redirected to Belk.com. Home furnishings such as bedding, small kitchen appliances, crystal, dinnerware, and china have been offered for several years to online shoppers, as a part of the chain's online bridal and gift registry. The chain revamped their website and registry on September 15, 2008. Celebrity-branded product lines are another pursuit, including a partnership with actress Kristin Davis for a ladies' apparel and accessories collection which debuted in fall 2008 in 125 store locations and online. However, that product line was discontinued in late 2009.
On October 3, 2010, the News & Observer reported Belk planned to update its logo. On October 12 at SouthPark Mall, Belk officially introduced the new logo, the first since 1967. The chain embarked on a $70 million marketing campaign that replaced the old slogan "All for You!" with a new slogan, "Modern. Southern. Style." Sixty stores got new signs in the first phase, with the remainder getting new signs throughout 2011. Advertisements for Belk & Co. jewelry continue to use a variation of the old logo.
In December 2010 Belk announced that beginning in 2011 it would become the title sponsor for the former Meineke Car Care Bowl (played in Charlotte), now renamed the Belk Bowl. The sponsorship would continue for three years. The first Belk Bowl drew 58,427 fans in 2011, and the 2013 game drew 48,128. On July 18, 2013, Belk announced the six-year extension of the Belk Bowl's partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning in 2014.
Beginning in 1921 with the Leggett Bros. stores of South Boston, Virginia, the Belk family formed various partnerships with other merchandisers in different markets. (This complex story is chronicled in a book about the evolution of the company.)
This unusual corporate ownership structure resulted in dual or hyphened names on many of their stores (and resulted in over 300 separate legal entities, each store having differing ownership interests), which in the 1990s threatened the company's very existence, as a combination of Belk family squabbles (one side wanting to keep the structure, while the other side saw it to be a hindrance in the modern retail era) and a wave of retail industry consolidation resulted in several partnerships (where Belk did not hold controlling interest) selling their interests to competitors (for example, the heirs of John G. Parks, majority owners of the Parks-Belk chain, sold their interests to Proffitt's; the Belks would quickly follow suit, though Belk would later purchase the Proffitt's chain).
Eventually John and Tom Belk would gain control of the company, just in time to salvage the company when the Belk-Leggett partnership was threatened (the chain comprising about 20 percent of the overall company's revenue; the Leggetts themselves were involved in their own family squabbles, and once again competitor Proffitt's had made an offer). The brothers took action by forming a new company in 1996 to purchase the Leggett interests.
In 1998, the company formed a new entity (Belk, Inc.) from its 112 existing Belk companies, and over time eliminated the dual-naming convention in favor of the Belk name (however, certain well-established partnership names, such as Hudson Belk in the Triangle region of North Carolina, remained in place until Belk's logo change in the fall of 2010).
- SouthPark Mall, in Charlotte, North Carolina, houses the chain's largest store, with more than 330,000 square feet (31,000 m2). The store was built in 1970 as one of the mall's original anchor stores. The mall was co-developed by the Belk and Ivey families.
- Phipps Plaza, in Atlanta, Georgia, contains the second flagship, which also opened as Parisian, part of a 1992 expansion of the mall in which the store became the third mall anchor. Like the store at The Summit, it converted to a Belk by September 2007, although its conversion to flagship wasn't officially announced until November 2, 2007. The company said it would help them compete again stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom which have locations at Phipps. Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's have locations across the street at Lenox Square. This will help them in the Buckhead market. 
- Riverchase Galleria, in Birmingham, Alabama houses the third flagship. It was originally the Parisian flagship. "The Belk store at the Galleria is technically already a flagship store, based on the volume of business it does, John Belk says. A renovation project will make it an official flagship store just like the mall's rival lifestyle center, The Summit. 
- The Summit, in Birmingham, Alabama, houses the fourth flagship, built in 1997, which opened as a Parisian store and one of the lifestyle center's original anchors. Its intended conversion to a Belk flagship was officially announced on April 25, 2007, with the reorganization complete by September 2007.
- Crabtree Valley Mall. in Raleigh, North Carolina, is where Belk built a similarly elaborate 236,000-square-foot (21,900 m2) store in 1972 (subsequently expanded to 305,000 square feet (28,300 m2) in 2007) in North Carolina's high-tech Research Triangle.
- http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1051771/000095012311036402/g26747def14a.htm SEC 2011 Def 14A proxy filing, p. 14
- Belk Official Website
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- "Store Details". Belk.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
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- "NC-based Belk department stores get new logo". The Charlotte Observer. 2010-10-03. Retrieved 2010-10-15.[dead link]
- Valle, Kirsten (2010-10-12). "Belk unveils its new logo at SouthPark". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- Belk, Inc.-- The Company and the Family That Built It