"We got a lot of negative letters from customers," says Bonnie Brooks, 57, of her 2008 start as president of the Bay. Canada's oldest department store—its history goes back to the days of King Charles II—was flailing, with an over-stretched staff that had packed stores with a confusing, too-broad array of merchandise. "It was like your worst nightmare," she says. "Customers couldn't find anything." Brooks—who revitalized Hong Kong's Lane Crawford department store and served as editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine Flare—has refreshed the Bay by dropping 800 brands and introducing 220, including Brian Atwood, Pierre Hardy, and Balmain. The changes are paying off: The Bay recently celebrated its most profitable year ever.
We have royalty in our history—eat your heart out, Ralph Lauren.
The Canadian consumer, they really want us to win this one. They believe in the bay, and they want us to succeed.