Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zellers: A bit of Canadian history fades from London

This is the new, soon to open, Target store in Westmount Mall in London, Ontario. Just a short time ago this store was a Zellers outlet. The Zellers chain had a long, rich history in London.

In 1928 Walter Zeller, from the Kitchener-Waterloo area, opened four stores in Ontario, and one of his original stores was in London. His stores were such an immediate success that they attracted the attention of an American firm Schulte-United Ltd. The Yanks bought Zeller out and then the depression hit. The Yanks went bankrupt. Zeller bought back his chain in 1932 and he was on roll that would last decades.

Walter Zeller retired in 1955 at 65. He died just two years later. He was buried in Montreal where he had lived for some time. This is why the Zellers head office was located in Montreal. The years after the death of Walter Zeller were tumultuous ones with control of the chain almost falling into the hands of the American Fields Stores. In the end, Zellers made Fields into its own subsidiary. Then in 1978 Hudson's Bay Company became the sole owner of Zellers.

HBC struggled for years under different owners until in 2008 the U.S. based investment firm, NRDC Equity Partners, bought Hudson’s Bay Co. for $1.1 billion. The Yanks peeled Zellers free of HBC, selling the rights to approximately 200 Zellers’ leaseholds for $1.825 billion to the American Target. All but three of the remaining Zellers stores are slated for closure by March 2013.

By late spring, three Zellers stores, one in Toronto, another in Montreal and a last one in Vancouver, will be the only stores remaining open from the once oh-so-successful Canadian chain.


Robert Bowles said...

I don't even know where to begin with how bad your facts are...who are you?

Rockinon said...

Dear Robert Bowles,

Please let me know what facts you believe are incorrect. I appreciate criticism. If you provide some links supporting what you say, I'll modify the post.