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Newsmaker of the Year: The Candidates

Here, the names that dominated the headlines in 2013. The winner, selected by WWD editors, will be published Dec. 16.

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Richard Baker

Photo By John Aquino

RICHARD BAKER

TITLE:
Chairman and chief executive officer

COMPANY: Hudson’s Bay Co.

NEWS THIS YEAR: He may have cut his teeth in the real estate business, but Richard Baker has proven his mettle in retail. With his deal earlier this month to purchase Saks Fifth Avenue for $3 billion, Baker is a force to be reckoned with in North American retailing. The acquisition of Saks, for which he outmaneuvered Neiman Marcus Group and KKR & Co., brings Baker’s cache of retail stores to 320 doors, including 179 full-line specialty department stores, 72 outlets and 69 home stores.

Baker began his career working with his father, Robert, in the family business — National Realty & Development Corp., one of the largest private owners of shopping centers in the country. In 2006, he took his first plunge into the retail end of the business, buying Lord & Taylor from Federated Department Stores. Two years later, he acquired Hudson’s Bay Co., the world’s oldest retailer with roots that date back to the fur trade in the 1600s.

Baker has invested in both nameplates, spending $40 million to renovate the L&T flagship alone, and started opening stores again after a hiatus of a decade. Last year, the company added units in New Hampshire and Yonkers, N.Y., and a Boca Raton, Fla., store opened in October, after an absence of 11 years. Hudson’s Bay too has been given a facelift under Baker’s tutelage, with the addition of Topshop and Topman shops, the bolstering of its private brand portfolio and the updating of its branded assortment. He also has identified his handpicked team, which encompasses Bonnie Brooks as vice chairman and Liz Rodbell as president of Hudson’s Bay Co., Marigay McKee as president of Saks and Jennifer de Winter as its chief merchandising officer.

Now that the Saks acquisition has been completed, Baker can execute an even more extensive game plan, which includes a broader rollout of L&T outlets under the Saks Off 5th umbrella and bringing Saks and its off-price sibling to Canada. The deal might also bring Hudson’s Bay, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange, to Wall Street.

JEAN E. PALMIERI


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