Au revoir, directement de Québec

Jack and I finished a beautiful day of sightseeing here in Quebec City.  This is one of the most charming cities in the world I have ever seen. Certainly a great jewel for Canada.

We visited over 40 stores, traveled over 14,000km, received over 10,000 hits on the blog and received hundreds of emails.

I believe the blog was a good way for us all to communicate. I was clearly able to express myself to a large group of people and participants were able to follow along and ask questions as they wanted.

We have four winners to Jack’s question-challenge. The answer is…..Jack’s favorite experience on the trip was when the Queen complimented him on his hat. Go figure…The winners are Inis Mansell, Michelle Kennedy, Gail Williams and Aaron Cornborough. Congratulations from Jack! Someone from Jack’s staff will reach out to you early next week to arrange delivery of your prize.

I would like to thank all the people that Jack and I met along the way. Special thanks to the team at HBC that helped get us up and going and Lexi Neibart, David Zylber, Jose Maria Olmo Gonzalez and Roula Panopoulos!

Maybe a future line at the Bay?

You can bring the horse to water, but you can't always make him drink...

I’ve had so much fun visiting stores, that starting next Thursday I will be spending another seven days visiting stores both in the US & Canada. No itinerary, no warning, no Jack, no blog….catch me if you can!!!

Jack et moi venons de passer une magnifique journée  à visiter la Vieille capitale.  Québec est sans contredit l’une des villes les plus charmantes au monde que j’ai vues. Un véritable joyau pour le Canada!

Au cours de notre périple, nous avons visité plus de 40 magasins et franchi plus de 14 000 kilomètres; d’autre part, plus de 10 000 visiteurs ont parcouru le blogue et nous avons reçu des centaines de courriels.

Je crois que le blogue était un excellent outil de communication pour tous. Il m’a permis de m’exprimer clairement et de joindre un très vaste auditoire tout en donnant la chance aux participants de me suivre et de me poser des questions.

Quatre personnes ont réussi à relever le défi lancé par Jack et trouvé la bonne réponse… En fait, l’expérience préférée de Jack au cours de son voyage a été lorsque la reine lui a fait un compliment sur son chapeau. Ne cherchez pas à comprendre… Les gagnants sont Inis Mansell, Michelle Kennedy, Gail Williams et Aaron Cornborough. Félicitations de la part de Jack! Jack verra à ce que quelqu’un communique avec vous au début de la semaine prochaine pour s’occuper de la livraison de votre prix.

Je tiens à remercier tous les gens que Jack et moi avons rencontrés au fil de nos déplacements.  Je remercie spécialement l’équipe à HBC qui a aidé à organiser le tout et, plus spécialement, Lexi Neibart, David Zylber, Jose Maria Olmo Gonzalez ainsi que Roula Panopoulos!

Ça m’a tellement plu de visiter les magasins que j’entreprendrai une nouvelle tournée de sept jours dans les magasins du Canada et des États-Unis à compter de jeudi prochain. Sans itinéraire, sans avertissement, sans Jack et sans blogue… Qui sait, on se croisera peut-être….


More Quebec City tours

Bay Les Galeries De La Capitale

A store with an opportunity to improve with better more efficient layout. The store is led by Corinne Cuaveau.  All of our stores can improve with great people, better customer service and a desire by the whole team to win. Keep up the great work!

France Tremblay and Corinne Cuaveau

Zellers Les Galeries De La Capitale another nice looking Zellers with a lot of future. Great team led by Gaetan Verret store manager.  Jack and I enjoyed a delicious lunch in the Zellers restaurant which was an authentic diner experience.  The callout for the day the new Canadian Monopoly board game.  Jack had to have it and when we got back to the room immediately opened it up to play. This new set uses no paper money and uses computerized debit cards.  Jack says load up on this game, it will be winner for Christmas.

Everyone wants to meet Jack

Gaetan Verret & Martina Gauthier

Bay Place Fleur De Lys

A dedicated band of associates working for store manager Nancy Daiqneault are doing a sensational job keeping one of our smallest least productive Bay stores going. This store while not as profitable as we would like looks and feels like a full line Bay and has every intention of improving and becoming  as profitable as possible. This store is like the little engine that could…and hopefully will.

Again, everyone wants to meet Jack

Zellers Place Fleur De Lys

Great looking store Pierre Begin the store manager has been with Zellers for 45 years. He is very passionate and engaged in how we can create a more successful store. We have a strong opportunity  for growth here but not if we can’t keep Pierre stocked with the right product. Hard to blame the team in the stores if we don’t ship them the product. I was looking to buy a pair of size 8 sneakers no luck….only 2 pairs of size 8 mens shoes in the store.

Imagine how many pairs of sneakers Pierre could sell is he had sizes smaller then 11…..

Pierre Begin, Bridgette Tremblay, Guy Bergeron

One more day to go!

Quebec: Laurier Shopping Centre & Deco Decouverte

Our first stop was The Bay store. at Laurier Shopping Centre   I am afraid we have created a monster ….. Everyone wants their picture taken with Jack. People even stop us in the mall and want their picture taken with Jack.  Apparently his appeal is much stronger in the French speaking part of the country.  This is a very high quality mall.  Unfortunately the parking and access is very difficult.  Hopefully this is something we can improve. While at The Bay we were shown around the store by Lorraine Martel and her team.  This store is in fine condition but certainly could use more better brands.  All of which are coming soon.  I was a little bit disappointed with some of the visual but I know they will get it worked out.  I look forward to visiting again soon.

Sylvie Lecompt (Sales mgr), Lorraine Martel (Store mgr) & Steve Lipari (District mgr)

We have just left the best looking Zellers of the trip so far.  Proper fixtures make a huge difference and the presentation and housekeeping in this store was great.  I have high hopes and expectations for Michel St-Hilaire going forward with this great store.

A perfect display, very similar to our new prototype

We walked through the Quebec City Home Outfitters/Deco Decouverte with Nancy Boulanger and Jennifer Allen.  This is an incredibly impressive store.  The Nespresso wall and coffee department is as good as any Nespresso store in Manhattan.   Nancy has had tremendous results this year and the last two years.  This Home Outfiiters is clearly the best home offering in Quebec City   Congratulations to the whole Home Outfitters team.  I didn’t want to leave.

Nespresso display

Leaving Ottawa

We are just leaving Ottawa. They sure know how to party in this town.  The crowds were out in the streets until the early morning, so Jack tells me. We’ll be in Quebec later today and we’re looking forward to practicing our French.

Jack is offering up a prize of a Hudson’s Bay Company blanket of your choice for anyone and everyone who can guess his favorite experience to date on this trip through Canada. Answers must be in by Saturday @ 9am EST.  Maximum of ten winners, first ten in order of how they’re posted on the blog.  One specific moment/guess per person please!

Nous quittons Ottawa à l’instant même. Ici, on a vraiment le sens de la fête. Jack m’a dit que les gens ont festoyé dans la rue jusqu’aux petites heures du matin. On sera à Québec un peu plus tard aujourd’hui et on a bien hâte de parler français.

Jack offre une couverture de la Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson, au choix du gagnant, à ceux qui devineront quelle a été son expérience préférée à ce jour au cours de son voyage à travers le Canada. Vous devez envoyer votre réponse avant samedi, 9 h (HNE). Maximum : 10 gagnants. Les gagnants seront les dix premières personnes selon l’ordre des réponses affichées sur le blogue.  Veuillez mentionner un moment précis / fournir une réponse par personne!

Canada Day 2010

People starting to file into Parliament Hill

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day in Ottawa.  We looked out the window of our hotel and tens of thousands of people were filling the street heading towards the Parliament building.  Jack and I walked with the crowd and sat very near the stage in front of the Parliament building.  We got to see the Prime Minister and his family and the Queen as they walked in and out of the event.  A great show was put on and fun was had by all.

Queen Elizabeth II on Canada Day 2010

The Barenaked Ladies perform "One Week"

Snowbirds' formation

The Queen walked over to Jack on her way out and complimented him on his hat!

Later in the day, I got a chance to visit the Bay and Zellers store. The Bay store was located right downtown in the best location.  I was shown around by Gina Ceppetelli, the store director, and Pia Barry and Charles Ledesque.  This is a great store with tremendous opportunity.  I can’t wait until we have an opportunity to renovate the store and introduce more exciting brands.  I have to tell you that I was a bit cranky when I visited the store because after walking through the city surrounded by a hundred thousand people all wearing Canadian gear I was disappointed at the selection and availability of our Canada product.  Canadians are very different from USA in that people seem to love to wear patriotic clothing especially on Canada Day.  In the United States, if you walked around on the 4th of July, maybe 20% of the crowd would be wearing red, white and blue or US gear.  In Canada with no exception 100% of everyone out was wearing something that was a Canadian branded product.  What a great opportunity for us.

At the Zellers store, Pat Grant, store manager, walked me around what was one of our oldest Zellers stores.  This store is one of the original 11 Zellers stores to open their doors for business in 1932.  This is a store that has done well but we as an organization need to figure out how to get more product out of the undersized stores.

As Jack and I continue to travel around Canada, what is most apparent to us is the huge opportunity that we have at the Hudson’s Bay Company.  So many opportunities to improve service, to improve product, to modify buildings.  We certainly have a bright future if we all connect the dots.

Churchill, Canada & Beluga whales

1:30 am at the Churchill River

This morning we woke up in Churchill, Manitoba, a small vibrant town on the banks of the Hudson Bay.  Churchill is famous for viewing polar bears and beluga whales.

Our first stop after leaving the Tundra Inn was the shore of the Hudson Bay.  We got on a small boat, actually an inflatable raft and boated out to visit the Prince of Wales Fort.

Prince of Wales Fort

The fort was built of stone starting in 1731 and took 40 years to complete.  They must have used the same contractor who built my house. The fort is located at the mouth of the Churchill River and was used to help prevent competing countries and companies from being able to enter the interior.

In 2010, they stand watch for polar bears (really), in 1782 they stood watch for the French

Jack and me in front of the fort entrance

The fort was lost to the French in 1782.  It was surrendered by Samuel Hearne without a fight.  Apparently Hearne was outnumbered almost 10 to 1.  I can imagine that if he had had internet access, he would have emailed corporate who would have told him to fight to the end…in spite of the fact that they had left him undermanned and totally unprepared for the onslaught.  Some things never change…

After leaving the fort we boated out into the bay and saw the route that ships used to take as they traveled through the bay.  It was only possible for the ships from England to enter the Hudson Bay between July and mid-October.

While in the bay with waves lapping over the edge of our raft something so Hudson’s Bay Company happened….we ran out of gas….I am not joking.  Apparently  “the new guy” forgot to fill up the tank.  I began picturing the morning headline of the third section of the Winnipeg Free Press “Governor of Hudson’s Bay Company LOST in Hudson Bay”

Fortunately Mike, our fearless captain, was very well prepared and reinforcements brought us fuel quickly.

Our Captain, Mike Macri is also an amazing photographer. Check out his site

As we left the Bay and entered Churchill River we were surrounded by magnificent beluga whales. Check out the pictures. But you MUST watch the video where we were able to tape the whales talking to each other and to us.

The calves ride on the mothers' backs and sometimes break the surface

Surrounded by about 70 beluga whales

Our Captain, Mike Macri is also an amazing photographer. Check out his website by copying and pasting the following into your web browser:

The York Factory

Aerial shot of the York Factory

What a Hudson’s Bay day. We saw the archives, the HBC museum, 3 stores and then we flew on Calm Air to Gilliam. From Gilliam we took a helicopter to the York Factory.

The York factory sits at the edge of the Hudson’s Bay strategically between the Nelson River and the Hayes River. This is the most desolate place on earth I have ever been to. There is nothing but harsh weather 8 months of the year and no people for hundreds of miles. They tell me that approximately 1500 people live in a 300 mile radius of the York factory….sounds like a good place for Walmarts next superstore…

The kind of people that were able to live work and build a business at this location must have been truly extraordinary. I am humbled by their accomplishments and can only imagine the toughness of our HBC predecessors. The DNA that lives within this company and all of us by association is  unique. We have a responsibility to ourselves and this heritage to make the Hudson’s Bay company a great success. It was operated and made successful by hard working risk taking adventures!  I promise you that as long as I am associated with this great company that I will not rest until we fill our ranks with the smartest and boldest risk taking adventurers on the planet.

My partners Lee, Francis, Don, Mark, Bonnie and Brendan are committed to win.  It is our plan to spend over $1 billion to renovate  all of our stores during the next 5 years. Each business is operating under a new business plan designed for success. I believe that during the next 12 months the Hudson’s Bay Company will reach its most valuable moment in 340 years….

The Parks Deparment has informed us that this is the first visit by a Governor of The Hudson’s Bay Company in the history of York Factory. The last high-ranking official to visit was George Simpson in 1850.

Canonballs from a bygone era

The HBC flag overlooking the Hudson's Bay