Lord & Taylor
|Headquarters||424–434 Fifth Avenue, |
Lord & Taylor was an American department store chain, which has now become an e-commerce retailer. It was America's oldest department store, staying in business from 1826 to 2021. At the time of its closure, the company maintained 38 stores and one outlet store. The flagship store at the Lord & Taylor Building on Fifth Avenue in New York City operated from 1914 until 2019.
The chain became a subsidiary of Le Tote, an online clothing rental company, in 2019. It went into liquidation in 2020 and Lord & Taylor's stores were closed. Saadia Group purchased its assets and revived the brand in 2021 as an online store.
English-born Samuel Lord started a dry goods business in New York in 1824 and opened the original store that would become Lord & Taylor in 1826, on Catherine Street in what is now Two Bridges, Manhattan. The shop stocked hosiery, misses' wear, and cashmere shawls. His wife's cousin, George Washington Taylor, joined in 1834, and the store was named Lord & Taylor. The store continued to grow: it annexed 49 Catherine Street in 1832 and moved six years later to 61–63 Catherine Street. James S. Taylor, Lord's brother-in-law, replaced George Taylor in 1845. The company erected a new building at Grand and Chrystie Streets in 1853 and moved into that location the next year. Lord later named his son John T. Lord and his employee John S. Lyle as partners in the enterprise.
On August 29, 1859, Lord & Taylor opened a second store on Broadway at Grand Street in the modern-day SoHo neighborhood, keeping the older store open. The new store was described as a "five-story marble emporium" and was among Broadway's first major new department stores since the A.T. Stewart building at 280 Broadway was completed in 1846. At the same time, Lord & Taylor started participating in wholesaling. Lord retired in 1862. Samuel Lord Jr. and George Washington Taylor Lord succeeded the original partners in leading the company.
In 1870, the Broadway store moved uptown to a new cast-iron building at Broadway and 20th Street, in the area known as the "Ladies' Mile". This store was designed by James H. Giles and included one of the first steam-powered passenger elevators. The new store expanded around 1890 by annexing a building to the east. Lord & Taylor faced economic troubles after the Panic of 1873, though the original partners gave the company "a large loan" in 1879. By 1894 the company was fast growing, and would open stores on Fifth Avenue in 1903 and 1906. The downtown store continued to function, expanded through to Forsyth Street, and advertised until at least 1887 as a new building. Samuel Lord's estate sold the Grand Street store in 1901.
The Lord & Taylor Building, the Starrett & van Vleck-designed Fifth Avenue store and headquarters opened between 38th and 39th streets on February 24, 1914. It touted many modern improvements, including an electric delivery vehicle garage; elevator and hidden conveyor systems for moving goods, people, showcases, and trash, and for loading and unloading trucks; and an on-site electrical generation and heating system. The Broadway store was quickly sold after the new store opened, on March 26. The new store became a New York City Landmark on October 30, 2007.
Lord & Taylor announced in November 1915 that it would sell off its wholesale business.
A founding unit of Associated Dry Goods, Lord & Taylor was considered to be its "crown jewel". When the May Company acquired ADG in 1986, it was assumed that May bought it just for the luxury division.
In 1945, Dorothy Shaver became the first woman to head a major retail establishment in the United States as president of Lord & Taylor. As vice president working with the well-known design firm of Raymond Loewy Associates, she opened what is credited as the first ever branch store, in Manhasset, New York. Unlike earlier forays into the suburbs that consisted of smaller boutique-style shops, this was a merchandising effort that became the model for modern suburban shopping. The store consisted of 66 individual shops. Lord & Taylor's relationship with Raymond Loewy Associates continued until 1969, following the construction of the Stamford, Connecticut, store (designed by Loewy Vice President Andrew Geller). Many of Lord & Taylor's special services, including personal shoppers, were introduced while Shaver presided. During this period she introduced the Andrew Geller hand written logo and the American Beauty Rose as icons of the store. Shaver died in 1959.
William J. Lippincott was elected chairman and chief executive in 1972. His obituary in The New York Times read: "In his years as president and chairman, Lord & Taylor moved beyond its traditional territory in the northeast to open stores in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas and four stores in Illinois." A management shakeup ousted him in 1976.
Under the leadership of CEO Joseph E. Brooks during the 1970s, the company aggressively expanded into Texas, Illinois and Michigan; in the early 1980s, South Florida saw 11 stores opened in quick succession.
Ownership by May
The chain partially withdrew from the oil-shocked Texas and southern Florida markets in 1989–1990 after its 1986 acquisition by May. Under May, the majority of the upscale Hahne & Co., Wanamaker's, and Woodward & Lothrop chains were converted to Lord & Taylor.
Jane T. Elfers became Lord & Taylor's second female president in June 2000. Former Neiman Marcus executive, Brendan Hoffman replaced her in October 2008, when Elfer's contract had expired. A third female president, Bonnie Brooks, took over in 2011, and a fourth female president, Liz Rodbell, took over in 2013.
Federated Department Stores, now Macy's Inc, acquired May Department Stores on August 30, 2005. On January 12, 2006, Federated chairman, president, and CEO Terry Lundgren announced that Lord & Taylor would be sold by the end of the year. In a move that took advantage of valuable real estate, Federated announced on March 10, 2006, that seven conflicting Lord & Taylor locations would either close or downscale into Macy's. The legendary Center City, Philadelphia store, former flagship of the John Wanamaker chain, opened after a one-month renovation as Macy's City Center on August 1, 2006. On June 22, 2006, NRDC Equity Partners, LLC announced it would purchase Lord & Taylor for $1.2 billion after Federated converted and closed the seven locations that it previously announced were closing; the sale completed in October 2006. Federated continued to service Lord & Taylor consumer credit accounts in an agreement with NRDC under the terms of its sale until mid-2007.
Ownership by Hudson's Bay Company
On July 16, 2008, NRDC Equity Partners announced that it had purchased the 338-year-old Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) for an undisclosed price, with the intention of expanding internationally, and positioned Lord & Taylor under HBC. The combined HBC, as of February 2018, consisted of Hudson's Bay and Home Outfitters in Canada, Galeria Kaufhof in Germany, and Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue in the United States.
HBC committed to spend an additional $250 million upgrading stores. The Fifth Avenue flagship store received a $150 million update in 2010. In March 2017, Lord & Taylor partnered with Brideside to launch an in-store bridal shop. In April 2017, Lord & Taylor completed a $12 million renovation plan at the Fifth Avenue store, however in October 2017 they announced that they were selling the building to WeWork for $850 million. In February 2019 the sale completed for $725 million in cash and the remainder in equity, forming a joint venture with Lord & Taylor was minority owners.
On December 6, 2017, HBC announced that they will close two L&T locations at Westfield Old Orchard in Skokie, Illinois, and Westfield Annapolis in Annapolis, Maryland. A total of 260 employees were laid off, at both locations, and have since closed in April 2018.
On April 1, 2018, the Hudson Bay Company gave notice of a theft of customers credit and debit cards due to a hacking incident. A hacking group, known as JokerStash or Fin7, was attempting to sell the information from five million stolen customer credentials on dark web sites during the last week of March 2018. The company noted that the majority of the compromised records appeared to be from Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue customers. The Hudson Bay Company noted that customers would not be liable for any charges incurred due to his breach and they will offer no cost credit report monitoring and identity protection services.
In May 2018, Walmart began carrying Lord & Taylor products on their website. A few weeks later, HBC announced they would be closing up to ten Lord & Taylor stores, including the 5th Avenue location, amid declining store sales. The New York flagship store closed on January 2, 2019.
Industry observers connected the closures and the sale of the flagship store to intense competition from online retailers and high debt at HBC. Lord & Taylor announced additional closings in Oakbrook Center, Monmouth Mall, Gaithersburg, and Sterling Heights.
Operations under Le Tote
In May 2019, HBC announced it was seeking strategic alternatives for the Lord & Taylor business. In August 2019, the company found a buyer for the chain, Le Tote, Inc. for C$99.5 million ($75 million) in cash on closing and an additional C$33.2 million ($25 million) two years later. HBC was to get a 25% equity stake in Le Tote. The buyer would retain the stores' inventory, with an estimated value of C$284.2 million. The deal, expected to close before year end, required HBC to pay the stores' rent for at least three years, at an estimated C$77 million ($58 million) cash per year. The acquisition was completed in November 2019.
During the fall of 2019, full-line store closings were announced in Nyack, NY, Woodbridge, NJ, Moorestown, NJ, Dulles, VA, and McLean, VA; and a FIND @ Lord & Taylor outlet was closed in Paramus, NJ. In November, 2019, the sale to Le Tote was finalized and it was reported that all 38 remaining Lord & Taylor stores would be kept open. Previously, five of the 38 stores were to be closed, according to the purchase agreement from HBC.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in February 2020, Lord & Taylor began laying off many workers at stores across all store in the Northeast and the Mid-West, as Le Tote was beginning to struggle with the fact that they had taken on someone else's problem, and their plan to reinvest in these stores was headed in the wrong direction.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Lord & Taylor's stores were forced to close due to executive state orders by the local and state governments on non-essential retail by Wednesday, March 18, 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. While it took a while for the store to reopen to the public some of its closed U.S. stores were looted following the murder of George Floyd.
Lord & Taylor began the process of reopening on Friday, May 15, 2020, when it opened two of its locations in Florida and New Hampshire. Additional stores were gradually reopened with all stores resuming operations by July 3, 2020.
Bankruptcy and acquisition
Exactly one month after Lord & Taylor had reopens all of its stores, on August 2, 2020, it was reported that several Lord & Taylor stores had started liquidation sales. Later that day, it was reported that Lord & Taylor, along with parent company Le Tote, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
On August 3, it was reported that the company would simultaneously solicit bids for a going concern sale of both its Le Tote and Lord & Taylor businesses, and conduct targeted store closing sales at 19 locations to maximize the value of its business. It was intended that both Le Tote and Lord & Taylor would continue to operate during the Chapter 11 process. They announced five more store closings on August 20, 2020.
On Thursday, August 27, 2020, the company announced that it was reversing its initial decision, and would close all stores. On Monday, October 19, 2020, Saadia Group, LLC announced it would acquire Lord & Taylor for $12 million and would continue to operate the business as an online-only business. The transaction was approved the following day.
On Monday, November 30, 2020, Le Tote announced that Lord & Taylor stores would start a phased closure on December 29, 2020, due to having favorable inventory levels throughout the holiday season. On Tuesday, December 29th, 2020, 18 out of 38 stores had permanently closed and about a month later, the freestanding store in Pennsylvania had closed. Finally, on Saturday, February 27th, 2021, the remaining 19 stores closed for the final time; these stores would have closed on Sunday, but due to the Bergen County Blue Laws that occur on Sunday for the Westfield Garden State Plaza and Fashion Center locations both located in Paramus, New Jersey, it was decided to close all of the stores on Saturday.[failed verification][original research?]
Phase I closures: December 29, 2020
- Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, Connecticut
- Westfarms in Farmington, Connecticut
- Northbrook Court in Northbrook, Illinois
- Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois
- The Mall in Columbia in Columbia, Maryland
- White Flint Mall in Rockville, Maryland
- Boston, Massachusetts
- South Shore Plaza in Braintree, Massachusetts
- Burlington Mall (Massachusetts) in Burlington, Massachusetts
- The Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, New Hampshire
- Livingston Mall in Livingston, New Jersey
- Rockaway Townsquare in Rockaway, New Jersey
- Crossgates Mall in Albany, New York
- Westfield South Shore in Bay Shore, New York
- Walden Galleria in Buffalo, New York
- Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station, New York
- Destiny USA in Syracuse, New York
- Ridge Hill Mall in Yonkers, New York
Bala Cynwyd closure: January 16, 2021
Phase II closures: February 27, 2021
- Stamford, Connecticut
- Westfield Trumbull in Trumbull, Connecticut
- Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts
- Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Michigan
- Bridgewater Commons in Bridgewater, New Jersey
- Freehold Raceway Mall in Freehold Township, New Jersey
- Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrenceville, New Jersey
- Fashion Center in Paramus, New Jersey
- Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey
- Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey
- Westfield, New Jersey
- Garden City, New York
- Manhasset, New York
- Vernon Hills Shopping Center in Eastchester (town), New York/Scarsdale, New York
- Eastview Mall in Victor, New York
- King of Prussia (mall) in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania/Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania
- Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia.
- Chevy Chase, Washington, D.C.
Online revival & Operations under Saadia Group, LLC
The company's former headquarters and flagship store at 424 Fifth Avenue sold to a joint venture of WeWork.
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