Hudson's Bay CEO Jerry Storch leaving company

Jerry Storch is stepping down as chief executive of Hudson's Bay Co. effective Nov. 1, the retailer announced after the close of stock markets on Friday.

Executive chairman Richard Baker to lead company during hunt for new top executive

Hudson Bay's CEO Jerry Storch is leaving the position on Nov. 1, the company announced Friday. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Jerry Storch is stepping down as chief executive of Hudson's Bay Co., the retailer announced after the close of stock markets on Friday.

Storch will depart effective Nov. 1 and return to his firm, Storch Advisors, HBC said in a release.

Richard Baker, HBC's governor and executive chairman, who had previously served as CEO, will reassume the role while the company conducts a search for a new top executive.

"The board and I are grateful for Jerry's contributions over the past three years, including enhancing our all-channel strategies, recruiting key talent, leading our cost-cutting efforts, and working to address the challenges for our banners in the fast-evolving retail environment," Baker said in a release. "We thank Jerry and wish him the best."

Storch is a former CEO of Toys "R" Us who joined Hudson's Bay in January 2015.

In announcing his departure, Storch said he had confidence in HBC's ability to position the company in the evolving retail landscape.

"I'm looking forward to returning to my advisory firm to work with a range of companies during this transformational time for the retail industry," Storch said.

Under Storch's leadership, HBC has faced pressure from the changing market, and from shareholders.

In its most recent quarter, the company said its sales grew by 1.2 per cent to $3.3 billion, but its loss for the quarter came in at $201 million, up from  $142 million in the same period of last year. The company attributed the larger net loss primarily to lower gross margins, along with higher expenses for sales and administration, depreciation and amortization.

HBC said back in June that it was cutting 2,000 jobs amid a reorganization.

The firm has also been under pressure recently from a minority shareholder, activist hedge fund Land and Buildings, which has called on HBC to monetize some of the value in its real estate. Land and Buildings threatened in September that it would move to oust HBC directors if the company didn't take moves to boost its performance.

In August, HBC said it was conducting a review of its strategic options, including the possibility of going private, and potential sales of retail assets and real estate.

Shares of HBC, which had traded in negative territory for much of Friday, rose towards the end of the trading session. The stock closed the day up 11 cents at $11.93 on the TSX.

With files from The Canadian Press