Hudson's Bay Company has 350 years of history — but does it have a future?

Share:

May 2 should have been an epic 350th birthday party for the Hudson's Bay Company — one of the oldest continuously operating companies in the world. 

Instead, HBC's iconic department stores were shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And even now, as the doors are reopening to customers, analysts are questioning the company's future as it navigates privatization and a complex and challenging post-pandemic retail environment.

HBC's immediate concern is "ensuring that financially it's able to maintain itself and not file for creditor protection," said Craig Patterson, editor in chief of the online magazine Retail Insider.

HBC declined a request for an interview.

But the company's very history points to its ability to survive, even in "uncertain times," said Amelia Fay, curator of the Hudson's Bay Company gallery at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.

"They've gone through a ton of big changes, even the Spanish flu. That was a huge pandemic for the world. The world wars greatly affected things, too."