Hudson's Bay Company: Diversification


In 1857 the company was subjected to a parliamentary investigation. Although the company trade privileges were renewed, its position was not secure. In 1863 the stock of the company was bought up and reissued by the International Financial Society; the stock passed from a few to many holders. This internal reorganization had a vast effect on the company.

The company also was changed from without, particularly after confederation (1867). Opponents were able to challenge successfully its monopolistic operations. In 1869 the company territory was by governmental order transferred to Canada in return for £300,000. The nature of the company was thereafter entirely different.

It began to change from being solely a fur-trading organization and eventually became a gigantic corporation of almost innumerable interests. The sales of company lands brought in much money. For many years (1889–1914) Lord Strathcona was governor. It was after his death that the real expansion of the company into retail trade and varied manufacturing took place, in the administrations of Sir Robert Molesworth Kindersley (1915–25) and Charles Vincent Sale (1926–30). In World War I company ships were used as transports and the company rendered great service to the war effort. In 1930 the company was split up: the Canadian stores became a separate organization, and the London portion once more turned to the fur trade. Company headquarters were transferred from England to Canada in 1970, and the company became a Canadian corporation in 1978. Most enterprises other than retail stores were sold off by 1983. In 1987 the Northern Stores division, which served N Canada and had originated as the old trading posts, was sold as well, becoming (1990) the North West Company. In 2006 control of the Hudson's Bay Company was acquired by an American investor, Jerry Zucker. Two years later the company was sold to NRDC Equity Partners; it became a publicly traded company in 2012. The company now owns U.S. and European retail chains as well as Canadian ones.

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