Canadian retailer Hudson's Bay Company says it plans to open up to 20 new Bay and Saks Off Fifth stores in the Netherlands over the next two years.

The announcement Tuesday by Hudson's Bay said the move marks the first time that The Bay brand will open outside Canada. The chain is currently finalizing long term leases and expected to open the first locations in the summer of 2017.

The move comes after the chain's $3.9-billion purchase last year of Germany's Galeria Kaufhof, giving HBC a major foothold in Europe and a launching pad to further expansion due to Kaufhof's supply chain.

"We are very pleased to introduce our Canadian Hudson's Bay banner, one of the world's most exciting department stores, to the Netherlands," HBC chair Richard Baker said.

"Our acquisition of Galeria in 2015 established our European headquarters in Cologne and a platform for future organic growth. Expansion into the Netherlands is a natural extension of our existing presence in Belgium as well as our planned entry into Luxembourg and will complete our presence in all of the Benelux countries."

Hudson's Bay, which owns Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay department stores, plans to spend upwards of $1.5 billion in the coming years to strengthen its European presence, including 40 Saks Off Fifth stores in Germany.

Toronto-based HBC said the move should create some 2,500 jobs in the stores and a further 2,500 for construction workers, and involve capital investment of some $340 million.

The Dutch retail landscape was rattled late last year by the collapse of department store chain V&D.