Belk

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For the American city, see Belk, Alabama. For other places in Poland, see Bełk (disambiguation).
Belk, Inc.
Private
Industry Retail
Predecessor Belk Brothers
Founded 1888 (Monroe, North Carolina, United States)
Founder William Henry Belk
Headquarters Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Number of locations
300 (February 2014)[1]
Key people
Lisa Harper (CEO)
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.
Revenue $4.0 billion (FY 2014)[2]
Owner Sycamore Partners
Number of employees
24,700 (2014 Annual Report)
Website www.belk.com

Belk, Inc. (stylized as belk) is an American department store chain founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, North Carolina with 300 locations in 16 states. Belk stores and Belk.com offer apparel, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, home furnishings and wedding registry.

History[edit]

The first Belk, established as New York Racket, in 1902.

Belk was founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, North Carolina, outside Charlotte. The store was first called "New York Racket" and then "Belk Brothers," after Belk made his brother, physician Dr. John Belk, his partner. Belk bought in volume to pass savings on and sold at fixed prices, then a relatively unusual practice.[3]

By 1909, the company had moved its headquarters to Charlotte and built a huge flagship store on Trade and Tryon Streets in downtown Charlotte, which would remain the company's headquarters until it was closed in 1988 to make way for the construction of what is now Bank of America Corporate Center. The business grew steadily, relying on "bargain sales" and advertising to grow the business and increase its influence throughout the South.

Beginning in 1921 with the Leggett Bros. stores of South Boston, Virginia, the Belk company grew by investing in various partnerships with local merchandisers in nearby markets.[4] This complex story is chronicled in a book published by Belk – Belk, Inc.: The Company and the Family That Built It – about the evolution of the company.[5]

This structure allowed Belk to expand quickly and permitted local variation, but resulted in a diluted brand identity since most stores were co-branded. By the 1990s, the system had become increasingly untenable: stores were held by over 350 separate legal entities, Belk family members disagreed about whether to maintain or sweep away the structure, and some local partners threatened stability by selling their stakes. For example, the heirs of John G. Parks, majority owners of the Parks-Belk chain, sold their interests to Proffitt's, a competitor. The Belks quickly sold their stake as well, although Belk would later purchase the stores back as part of its later acquisition of the entire Proffitt's chain. When Proffitt's made an offer for the Leggett family's stake, which included 42 stores comprising about 20 percent of Belk's revenue, John and Tom Belk were forced to respond by forming a new company in 1996 that bought the Leggetts out. This move accelerated the slow trend of consolidating the store's ownership under the Belks.[6]

Belk Bros. store in Charlotte, North Carolina around 1910.

In 1998, the company formed a new entity (Belk, Inc.) that merged the 112 remaining Belk companies, swapping the existing partners' local interests for shares in the combined entity; for example, the Hudson family in Raleigh received almost 5% of the shares.[7] Slowly, Belk eliminated the dual brands, completing the process with a chain-wide Belk rebranding in the fall of 2010.

On July 5, 2005, Belk completed the purchase of 47 Proffitt's and McRae's department stores from Saks Incorporated, primarily in Tennessee and Mississippi. Belk converted the 39 Proffitt's and McRae's stores to the Belk nameplate on March 8, 2006.[8] 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 duplicate Parisian stores were closed, as at The Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo, Mississippi, Richland Mall (then known as Midtown at Forest Acres), Columbiana Centre in Columbia, South Carolina, and Citadel Mall in Charleston, South Carolina. Four Parisian 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. Integrating the larger, more upscale Parisian stores proved a challenge for Belk, and spurred the creation of the company's flagship strategy.[9]

One of the earliest prototype 1960s-era stores to feature the trademark Belk arches, Southgate Mall, Elizabeth City, NC.

During the fourth quarter of 2005, Belk completed the sale of its 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.[1]

Former Belk logo used from 1967 to 2010. The "All for you!" slogan was used from the late 1990s onward.

On October 3, 2010, the News & Observer reported that Belk planned to update its logo.[10] On October 12 at SouthPark Mall, Belk introduced the new logo, its 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.[11] Advertisements for Belk & Co. jewelry continue to use a variation of the old logo.

On April 3, 2015, news reports revealed that Belk was exploring "strategic alternatives," including a possible sale of the company.[12]

On August 24, 2015, Belk announced that it had entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners.[13] The acquisition was completed on December 10, 2015.[14]

On June 29, 2016, Belk announced that effective as of July 5, Lisa Harper, CEO of Hot Topic, would replace Tim Belk as CEO of Belk. This would be the first time since the founding of the company that a non-Belk family member would head the company.[15]

Company today[edit]

The chain operates 300 stores in 16 states, generating US$4 billion in sales in 2014. Its typical store covers 100,000 to 180,000 square feet. 50% of its stores are in regional malls, another 40% in open-air community or retail parks, and 10% in open-air lifestyle centers.[16]

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 its 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.[17]

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.[18] The first Belk Bowl drew 58,427 fans in 2011, and the 2013 game drew 48,128.[19] On July 18, 2013, Belk announced the six-year extension of the Belk Bowl's partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning in 2014.[20] Under the current agreement the bowl will feature teams from the ACC and the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

Flagship locations[edit]

The chain has multiple "flagship" locations—larger locations in urban and metropolitan centers,[21] and a wider array of merchandise and services including in-store salons.[22][23] As of 2014, the chain claimed 18 flagship locations, and plans to upgrade more locations.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "View All Stores". Belk.com. January 1, 1970. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  2. ^ http://www.manta.com/c/mm7xcrr/belk-inc
  3. ^ Womick, Chip (December 2010). "Main Street Merchant". Our State. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  4. ^ Womick, Chip. "Main Street Merchant". 
  5. ^ a b "History". Belk.com. January 1, 1970. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  6. ^ Bull, Becky (October 7, 1996). "Belk making small moves to fight foes". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  7. ^ Mildenberg, David (January 12, 1998). "Hudson role appears vital to Belk future". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ Davis, Lisa. "What's in store for Belk" (November 2008). Archived from the original on January 3, 2015. 
  10. ^ "NC-based Belk department stores get new logo". The Charlotte Observer. October 3, 2010. Retrieved October 15, 2010. [dead link]
  11. ^ Valle, Kirsten (October 12, 2010). "Belk unveils its new logo at SouthPark". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2010. 
  12. ^ Peralta, Katherine (April 2, 2015). "Belk exploring possibility of selling company". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved April 3, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Belk, Inc. Enters Into Definitive Agreement To Be Acquired By Sycamore Partners". wistv.com. PR Newswire. Retrieved August 24, 2015. [permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Sycamore Partners Completes Acquisition Of Belk, Inc.". Prnewswire.com. Retrieved December 11, 2015. 
  15. ^ Butler-Young, Sheena (June 29, 2016). "Tim Belk To Step Down As Belk CEO, Hot Topic's Lisa Harper To Step In". Footwearness.com. Retrieved July 26, 2016. 
  16. ^ Belk, Inc. "Form 10-K Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2014". Sec.gov. US Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  17. ^ [2][dead link]
  18. ^ [3][dead link]
  19. ^ "Belk Bowl chief confident despite smaller crowd". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 18, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  21. ^ Thomas, Jennifer (April 9, 2014). "Belk opens flagship store in Dallas". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Customer Service - Belk.com". Belk Salons and Spas. Retrieved April 4, 2015. 
  23. ^ Lucy Berry. "Store openings, construction, negotiations on summer agenda at Bridge Street Town Centre (photos)". AL.com. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Belk to make Phipps Plaza store a high-end 'flagship'". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Belk plans makeover for Riverchase Galleria store, other new investments across the chain". AL.com. March 11, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Saks Fifth Avenue is leaving the Galleria; Belk is moving in | Business | Dallas News". Bizbeatblog.dallasnews.com. January 29, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  28. ^ WFMY (July 9, 2014). "Opening Dates Announced For Belk Store At Friendly Center". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Belk to Invest $16 Million for Major Improvements to Greensboro and High Point, NC Stores". Belk.mediaroom.com. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 

External links[edit]