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Hudson’s Bay Eying Neiman Marcus – Again

Word on the Canadian retailer possibly buying the Dallas chain circulating

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Shutterstock, Sundry Photography

For years, the Hudson’s Bay Co. (Toronto) has been in and out of talks to buy the Neiman Marcus Group (Dallas), and it’s happening again this summer. Word of such negotiations resurfaced earlier this week, in a story published by The New York Post.

But a follow-up story in Women’s Wear Daily that examined the pros and cons of such a deal quoted a source close to the situation as saying, “Nothing is new here. Nothing is imminent. What’s true is Saks has an exclusive agreement to conduct a due diligence,” giving Hudson’s Bay officials, bankers and consultants access to Neiman’s books.

“This isn’t a merger. This would be Hudson’s Bay buying Neiman Marcus Group,” the source said.

On the one hand, the two high-fashion retailers might be able to help each other out in today’s hyper-competitive luxury retail market, several observers told WWD.

“You could make a very strong case for putting these two companies together — efficiencies, data sharing, a common customer base, lots to share, lots to consolidate,” said a financial source familiar with both retailers who requested anonymity. “There are so many different competitive issues in the environment. Luxury is very fragmented. The power shift has gone to the brands. Neiman’s and Saks would be much stronger if they were together.”

But other sources raised doubts about a deal happening. “These companies have talked about getting together for many, many years. It always comes down to the financials and what makes sense,” said a financial source. “You are dealing with financial owners of both companies. [The Hudson’s Bay] group would drive a hard bargain so I would be very skeptical about a deal.”

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In addition, “There is some antitrust risk in this,” Craig Johnson, President of Customer Growth Partners told WWD.

So, will such a deal ever come to fruition? At this point, it’s up to the parties directly involved to decide.

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