History

1960

  • Towers Marts of Canada brought the chain discount store concept to Canada in November of 1960. A crash building program would open 12 discount plaza units of 100,00 square feet each in just over two years. In Quebec, the stores went under the Bonimart banner.
     

  • Toronto Star, September 9, 1960: "Fourteen Toronto retail chain store operators have decided the best way way to do business in future is to get together under one roof  and compete as a group against their individual stores." 
     

  • The first store was opened at the corner of Lawrence Ave. East and Midland Ave. Each selling department within a Towers store was operated as a licensed concession. 
     

  • Read Elayne Freeman's first hand account of opening day.
     

  • Opening day flyer.

 

1961

1962

  • "Reorganization in U.S. affects Towers stock"
     

  • A new store opens​ (the third) at Bloor and Dundas Sts. On the opening day, the first 1,000 customers were sold silver dollars at 80 cents each. Seven sets of triplets, ranging in age from 3 to 24, took part in the opening ceremonies. They helped Ben Rosenberg, President of Towers Marts and Properties Ltd. fill a time capsule and photographs and newspapers. The capsule will remain buried until 2062. [Editor's note: I wonder what happened to it?} Donald Jaffey, president Allied Towers Merchants, said that centralizing warehousing, bookkeeping and inventory control will help streamline merchandising operations. 
     

  • Towers Ottawa store opens August 13.  "By using the latest merchandising techniques such as central check-out counters, self-selection displays, and a minimum of personnel, we have kept costs low," Ely Segal, Towers Vice-President, said today, "This saving is passed along to the customer.

    Every item in every department is discount priced — that is, priced on the average 15 to 20 percent lower than ordinary retail prices. Towers carries many top brand-name products at discount prices and with their policy of
    satisfaction guaranteed or your money hack stands squarely behind every sale.

    Aisles and counters have been designed to permit quick, easy inspection of merchandise without fanfare of high pressure selling."

     

  • Ottawa store promises "MONTHLY PRIZE PLAN. Each month Towers offers a prize of up to $200 for the lucky winner of the Baby Bonus cheque cashing plan. The name and address of all customers who cash their baby  bonus cheques is carefully recorded and each month, on the Saturday following the distribution of these cheques winners are announced. If you're in the store and your name is called, you receive $200; if you are not there Towers still presents you with $100."
     

  • Allied Towers Merchants Limited offers shares in this May 23 announcement in the Star. 
     

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission reports (February 5, 1962): "...Towers Marts International was organized under Delaware law in July 1961 as the successor by merger to the business of Tower's Marts, Inc. and Tower's Properties, Inc.

    It either has options to purchase or has purchased sites for an expects to develop during 1962 six shopping centers in the United States and nine shopping centers in Canada, each of which will include a Towers store, and to acquire property and construct four additional stores in the United States and three in Canada, to be located in shopping areas operated by unrelated parties. The company estimates that the cost of acquiring property for and carrying out this construction program will be about $25,000,000.

    The company is engaged in the construction and operation of 23 retail discount department stores on leased premises, in suburban areas of the eastern United States and Canada.

    Its present policy is to license all available selling area in the stores it operates to concessionaires and not to engage in any direct retail sales to the public. It also enters into real estate transactions for the acquisition of stores or sites for stores or complete shopping centers."

1963

  • Shares of discount department store operator Towers Marts and Properties Ltd. drop from a high of $9 to a level of $1 per share. 

  • Discounter Ben Rosenberg, president of Towers Marts and Properties store chain, announces March 6 that Towers is in receivership. Twelve of Towers' 13 stores are making money, he says. Attempting to cut costs, he announces that Allied Towers Merchants Ltd. has just taken over merchandising, cashiering and other in-store operations. 

 

  • The Star reports on May 29 that Allied Towers Merchants suffered a $268,492 net loss for 1962. Three months earlier, Allied Towers assumed the merchandising functions formerly done by Towers Marts and Properties. 

 

1964

  • M.W. Book is elected president and general manager of Allied Towers Merchants. 

 

  • Maxwell Goldhar is appointed president and a director of Towers Marts and Properties Ltd. 

 

1965

 

Oshawa Wholesale Ltd. and W. L. Atkinson, a director of Allied Towers Merchant Ltd., have made an offer of 60 cents a share for 753,750 shares of Allied Towers held under voting trust agreement by Towers Marts & Properties Ltd.

The offer is subject to approval of Towers Marts & Properties shareholders at a meeting to be held Dec. 13. It is conditional on tendering of at least 250,000 shares and will expire Dec. 15.

At last report Allied Towers Merchants had 1,731,516 common shares outstanding of 3,000,000 authorised.

Allied Towers Merchants operates on a rental and lease basis the stores of Towers Marts & Properties in Ontario and Quebec Towers Marts went into receivership in 1963. 

1966

  • "Wholesaler takes control of 5-store chain"
     

  • Department Store chain, which operated throughout Ontario. A year later the company acquired the rest of Rite-Way's shares and purchased Allied Towers Merchants Ltd., another department store chain, combining the operations of the two under one management group.Rite-Way Oshawa diversified into general merchandise retailing in January, 1966 when it purchased a 75% interest and took over management of the six-store 

     

    The locations were: Belleville, Brampton, Peterborough, Stratford, Toronto (Carlaw Ave.), Toronto (Eglinton Ave. W), Welland, and Woodstock.
     

  • "The appointment of William C. Atkinson as Vice-President., Department Store Division, The Oshawa Wholesale Limited, is announced by Ray D. Wolfe, President. Mr. Atkinson who has been chairman of Allied Towers Merchants Limited since 1966 will be responsible for supervising the operations of Allied Towers Merchants Limited and its 21 Allied Towers Merchants Limited and Rite-Way department stores in Ontario and Quebec. Allied Merchants Limited is an Oshawa subsidiary. " Globe & Mail, August 9, 1967

1967

1968

  • In 1968 Oshawa purchased Rockower of Canada Ltd., a firm which operated the men's and boys' departments in 26 of Oshawa's Towers stores.
     

  • Oshawa buys Kent Drugs for 3.6 million. 
     

  • "Seeking people  to  "...join us to help us extend fast and effective service to our new TOWERS customers in our 28th store! Jane and Finch store advertises

    Towers has excellent programmed salary scales and many employee benefits which range all the way from special Christmas Bonus for all employees to 3 weeks vacation after 5 years for full time employees."

    We need people for Stock Boys, Cashroom Clerk, Bookkeeping Clerk, Staff Supervisor/Head Cashier, Janitor​, Hardware, Housewares and Pets,Toys, Sporting Goods, and Stationery, Cameras and Records, Furniture and appliances.​

1969

  • "Mr. Jack Genser, Vice-President and General Manager of Towers Discount Department stores, announces the appointment of Alex Kennedy as Vice-President, Sales and Operations. Mr. Kennedy was formerly Operations Manager of Towers. Towers stores are operated by Allied Towers Merchants Limited, a subsidiary of The  Oshawa Wholesale Limited. " Globe & Mail, April 30, 1969

1970

  • The Richelieu Valley will have its first one-stop regional shopping centre... Place St. Jean, a $4,300,000 fully enclosed shopping complex, will contain a discount department store... It will contain a 66,000 square-foot Les Galeries Towers department store...  
     

  • Oshawa Wholesale appointment announced: Stan Lipson (VP Merchandising Towers)
     

  • Shareholder in Oshawa Group stocks worried that Towers/Food City not performing well. Assured everything is ok.
     

  • Bargain Harold's chain opens

1971

  • Ray D. Wolfe President of The Oshawa Wholesale Limited, announces the appointment of William Sherman as Executive Vice-President Retail Operations. Mr. Sherman will be responsible for all consumer oriented divisions and operations including the Ontario Food Division. Hudon et Orsall Limitée. Badlands Limited, Allied Towers Merchants Limited, Rockower of Canada Limited, Kent Drugs Limited and the restaurant and linen service divisions. Mr. Sherman was formerly Senior Vice-President Retailing." Globe & Mail, April 13, 1971
     

  • Sudbury City Centre, with retail, hotel and offices developed by Marchland Holdings, opens. It is built around a Towers-Food City combination.
     

  • Rexdale store opensToronto Star August 16, 1971 article excerpt: "The opening will be marked by appearance of a bevy of high-booted beauties in brief, yellow Towerette costumes distributing gifts."  
     

  • "Boy found lost in Toyland", Globe & Mail

 

1972

  • There are ten department store chains in Ontario and a handful of independents. The big ten are Bay, Eaton's, Gem, KMart, Miracle Mart, Riteway, Simpson's, Simpsons-Sears, Towers and Woolco.
     

  • "Ray D. Wolfe, President of The Oshawa Group Limited, announces the the appointment William L. Atkinson as Executive Vice President Finance. He will be responsible for the overall financial management of Oshawa, its divisions and subsidiaries.

    Mr. Atkinson joined the Oshawa corporate staff in 1997 as Vice President, Department Store Division, shortly after the Company acquired Allied Towers Merchants Limited of which he was Board Chairman. He was later named Vice President Administration and prior to his present appointment was Vice President Finance."

1973

 

 

  • First time in Canada, the Oshawa group introduces a hypermarket (department and grocery store together) near Montreal and calls it Hypermarché. It was 268,000 square feet, with 60 checkouts and 3,000 parking spaces. It was not a success. These “malls without walls” have a high learning curve for their operators, particularly if they are going from food to general merchandise. First store opened in 1973.

 

1974

  • Falsely accused shoplifter at Towers Brantford store awarded over $80,000 by the Ontario Supreme Court. 
     

  • Towers appointments announced: Robert Deardon (VP Merchandising - Hardlines), Isador Roitman (VP Merchandising - Softlines),  Gordon Murray (VP Personnel) and John Share (VP Distribution).

 

  • Multi-Malls opens in Blandford Square (just outside Woodstock) and in 1978 opens Norfolk Mall (just outside Tillsonburg).

    A decade earlier, Towers/Food City combinations had proceeded Multi-Malls, with little trouble and little debate. But the Oshawa Group anchors were not accompanied by small stores in Woodstock (1968), Peterborough (1965), St. Catharines (1965), Owen Sound, Westminster (1967), Niagara Falls (1965), Brantford, Aldershot (1968), and elsewhere. Indeed, the Towers department store was basically a group of jobbers (independent merchants), so no more specialty stores were needed (or advisable, from a landlord perspective) under the Towers/Food City combination. 

    A blizzard of government restraining orders were issued against Multi-Malls: in the case of Blandford Square, one was issued for the wrong location and by the time the Provincial government noticed its mistake, Multi-Malls had its building permit.

     

  • Kipling/Queensway store opens. Opening day flyer -  August 13, 1974
     

  • Billboard (March 30, 1974):

    Quebec Store in Massive Promo
    "LAVAL, P.Q. - Hypermarche, an Oshawa Wholesaler's store located in Laval, Quebec, held one of its largest record and tape promotions from February 25 to March 2. On the stores' 250,000 foot floor space, 70 dump tables of tapes and records were set out.

     An extensive radio and television advertising program was used, in addition to advertisements in the local papers to draw attention to the promotion.


    A number of Canadian recording artists including The Stampeders, Pagiaro, Patsy Gallant, Claude Dubois, Francoise Gay, Isabelle Pierre and Rene Claude were brought in to appear at the store to sign autographs and talk to the shoppers.

    The project was coordinated by Serge Laurendeau, the branch manager of Handelman's in Montreal, and by Ward Poole, one of the buyers for Towers, another Oshawa Wholesaler-owned chain."

     

  • Billboard magazine of September 7, 1974, reports that "Canada's top recording artists are gearing themselves for a pitched battle with those companies in this country that deal in deleted records bought in the U.S. for sale in the Canadian market. 

    Ward Poole, who is the buyer for the Towers department store chain in Canada, explains: "Everybody has to buy deletes because that's the whole market now. I'll see an album selling for $1.90 somewhere else I can't very well sell it for $5.29. You have to stop the main culprits first,especially the stores in which the major part of their stock is deletes. l will never bring another Canadian album back across the border but it is very tempting when you can get albums landed here at such low prices. I had bought some Lighthouse product but that's about it."
     

  • "Tests for one-size panty hose hits a snag"

1975

 

1976

  • Towers Department Stores joins with Hudson's Bay Co., the Great Atlantic and Pacific Co. of Canada, F.W. Woolworth and Gambles to create The Retail Research Foundation of Canada - a non-profit organization that conducts quality, specification and safety tests on a variety of products that retailers propose to sell to Canadian consumers. 

1977

  • Saffer Cravit and Freedman Advertising Ltd. takes on Towers Department Stores as a client for all their advertising.
     

  • Former Vice President of Towers pleads guilty to fraud.
     

  • Towers rainchecks are all wet. Waiting two months for two toasters.
     

  • "Work begun on N.S. centre", Globe & Mail
     

  • Sayvette closes - "During the recession of the mid-1970s, Sayvette's fortunes declined as it failed to establish its place between discounters like K-Mart and Woolco, and full department stores like Eaton’s and Simpsons. In the summer of 1975, Sayvette closed its three Metropolitan Toronto stores (North York, East York and Scarborough), and its stores in Barrie (Bayfield Mall became Canadian Tire) and Mississauga Dixie Plaza became Knob Hill Farms locations. More store closings followed, and in December 1977, the last store, in Ajax (Harwood and Bayly), closed."

  • "Six years sought  for store kickbacks"

1978

1980

  • Maclean's Magazine: "Tridont Dental Centres of Mississauga, Ont., owned by Dr. Howard Rocket, 33, was the first company to pioneer the field in Canada when it opened an outlet at a Towers store (Dixie store)in Mississauga last year. Since then he has opened branches at two Woolco stores in the Toronto area and at a Towers store in Sudbury. Towers is so pleased with customer acceptance that Sam Crystal, a company spokesman, says, “We plan to open two more Tridont centres in October at stores in Ottawa and Waterloo.”

 

1981

  • Sales of $324,363,000 reached32 stores now have point-of-sales terminals
     

  • Miss Teen Canada appears at Dixie store.
     

  • Ed Harsant appointed Vice President Operations
     

  • Peter Davidson appointed Controller
     

  • Towers President, William Atkinson, announces "Bonimart has the right idea. Bonimart moves into the 80's. Plans include new, clean, modern look."
     

  • The Toronto Star, June 18, 1981 article -- STOCK SLEUTH -- examines Oshawa Wholesale Ltd.

    Their verdict?

    "Oshawa's stock has doubled in price in the last 12 months but analysts expect it to continue to rise -- to the $18 to $20 range within the year.

    Oshawa is in a strong financial position and its sales have surpassed the average within the industry.

    Towers Department Stores have solved problems of excess inventories are are likely to play a larger part in Oshawa's growth this year."
     

  • "Bonimart has the right idea! Bonimart moves into the 80's."

1982

 

  • Kent Drugs Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Oshawa Group Ltd. operating under the name Drug City, buys the assets of Metro Drugs Manitoba Ltd. 
     

  • IBM 4341 goes online to "...facilitate the implementation of unit control and on-line merchandise processing systems"
     

  • Toronto Star article, February 8, 1982: "Al Ilumji has come a long way since a car accident three years ago turned his world upside down. In Scarborough, 130 employees of Towers department store at Warden and Finch, where his father works,raised about $2,500 to buy him a wheelchair, walker, leg braces and an orthopedic bed. 

    Store manager Earl Wilson said everyone benefited from this project. 'We were able to help Al and we also helped ourselves because we did something as a group outside the workplace which brought us a lot closer together.'"

  • ShopRite closes: November 1981, the chain had 65 stores in Ontario when HBC announced that it would close the unprofitable chain on January 30, 1982. ShopRite was unable to compete with Consumers Distributing, which had over 400 catalogue stores in 1981 and sales of 40 per cent more per store than ShopRite.

1983

 

  • Don Beaumont, vice-president of Marketing for Towers concedes competition for toy sales from Toys "R" Us will likely be something to be reckoned with. "We've watched them for many years and have developed a healthy respect for them but Canada is another market, another world. Many prosperous American businesses have moved to Canada and have not enjoyed similar success." 

  • William L. Atkinson, President of Towers Department Stores announces the appointment of Larry J. Crystal as General Manager of the Restaurant Division. Mr. Crystal has a Business Administration degree from Waterloo Lutheran University and before joining Towers in March, 1982 as Director Food Services was manager and a principal in two food service companies. He succeeds Redmond (Red) Langan who is retiring.
     

  • Kmart closes 6 of their Montreal stores. Competition with Bonimart is too fierce and because they "...got all the best locations before it (Kmart) arrived in Montreal in 1971."
     

  • "A sorry day for robber as $18,000 is returned", Globe & Mail

1984

  • Oshawa Annual Report: Towers $389.1 million in sales for 1984; $366.4 million in 1983; increase of 6.2%.
     

  • Shoppers are advised not to shop at the Riverdale Plaza or Galleria Shopping Centre stores. The reason? If you want to cash a cheque there you are going to have your photo taken. 

 

  • Oshawa Group profit is up. Towers Department Stores helps out. 

 

1985

  • Oshawa Annual Report: Towers $415.1 million in sales for 1985; $389.1 million in 1984; increase of 6.7%.
     

  • Receives $128 refund for troublesome bicycle.

  • "William L. Atkinson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Towers Department Stores announces the appointment of E. Wayne Cammack as Vice President Information Systems. A graduate of the University of Waterloo with a B.Sc. degree (Physics and Computer Sciences) Mr. Cammack joined Towers in 1980 as Director Electronic Data Processing after several years in senior systems positions with two Canadian department store chains. His current appointment reflects Towers' commitment to leadership in the application of computer based technology to general merchandise retailing."
     

  • The Towers Department Stores unit of Oshawa Group Ltd. of Toronto is being more heavily promoted as a family shopping chain with a new slogan and campaign developed by Saffer Cravit and Freedman Advertising Ltd., also of Toronto. Photos of Towers employees with their families will support the new slogan, "We're part of the family," which will be used in flyers and on radio and television. Globe & Mail (Toronto, Canada, Feb. 6, 1985)
     

  • More Department Stores Decide to Stay Open on Sunday (Globe and Mail December 2, 1986)
     

  • Bargain Harold's chain closes - 52 locations sold to Kmart for $16 million.

1986

  • Oshawa Annual Report: Towers $444.3 million in 1986
     

  • Towers Head Office publishes "Favourite Recipes" booklet 

1986 sales.jpg

1987

  • Oshawa Annual Report: Towers $478.5 million in sales for 1987; $444.3 million in 1986; increase of 7.7%.
     

  • W.L. Atkinson, president and chief executive officer of Towers Department Stores Inc. is named to the Peel Region's first Junior Achievement Board of Governors

 

  • Max Wolfe, founder of the Oshawa Group Ltd., passes away. He was a grocer and businessman born in Lithuania in 1893 and raised near Newmarket, Ontario. At age 16, with $25 cash and a $60 loan, he bought a horse, wagon and load of apples and went into business. In 1914, he launched Ontario Produce Co. with his brother Maurice to supply army bases. The operation expanded to become known as the Oshawa Group Ltd. and at his death it included IGA, Food City, Dutch Boy, Towers Department Stores and Drug City.

 

  • Tom Spayde develops prototype retail design concept for Towers Department Stores (Toronto) and led concept integration into Halifax, N.S. flagship location.
     

  • Total store sales (including sales of concessionaires) reached the half-billion dollar mark for the first time, and at $503.3 million were up 7.8% over the preceding year. Sales of company-operated departments rose 7.7% to $478.5 million.
     

  • No new stores were opened during the year and the unprofitable Decarie Square unit in Montreal was closed at year-end. Three stores—Bedford, N.S. and Sudbury and Waterloo in Ontario—were renovated in the "Store-of-the-Future" format.

1988

  • Towers looks for experienced retail department managers for "...our new 'Store of the Future' in Newmarket opening early 1989. [Editor's note: This store never opened.] 

 

  • Thirteen are charged in Towers store promotion - Police say at least 13 people knew they could splurge on big purchases without paying a cent. All of them had scratch-and-save cards which, when checked by the sales clerks, showed they had won a 100% discount and would get the goods free. 

1989

  • The Globe & Mail report "William L. Atkinson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Towers Department Stores Inc. announces the appointments of Donald A. Beaumont as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and William Douglas as Vice President Marketing. Mr. Beaumont who joined Towers in 1977 as Vice President Marketing, will be responsible for marketing, store operations, warehousing and distribution, human resources, loss prevention and market research and development. Mr. Douglas who started in 1964 as a trainee with Rockower of Canada, later acquired by Towers, has been a merchandise manager for 15 years and will be responsible for buying, merchandise services, advertising and sales promotion."
     

  • Freddy Krueger driven out of Towers.

1990

  • The Toronto Star, on October 23, reports that "Oshawa, Hudson's Bay seal pact on store sale." While details are sketchy, a "definite agreement to sell its bargain-basement Towers and Bominart department store operations" for between $100 million and $150 million has been reached. 

  • The November 5 edition of Discount Store News reports that “Zeller's parent gobbles up Towers - Hudson Bay Company buys Towers Department Stores Inc. from Oshawa Group Ltd., Zeller's Inc.” 

  • On November 16, the Star reports that "Hudson's Bay to expand despite slump.
     

  • "Negotiations were continuing yesterday that could result in the giant Zellers lnc. chain buying the Towers department stores run by Oshawa Group Ltd.


Bay Street sources suggested that a reported lock-up agreement that was to run out yesterday may be extended.

Toronto-based Oshawa Group has said it was effectively barred from talking to any other bidders about a possible Towers deal.

Sources said a letter of intent signed by Hudson's Bay Co., which owns Zellers, and the Oshawa Group, was to expire yesterday. The letter basically stops Toronto's Oshawa Group from negotiating with any other potential bidders until then.

The sources said Hudson's made an unsolicited offer for Oshawa Group's Towers stores. The proposed deal would close next month.

F. W. Woolworth Corp. Co. Ltd. of Toronto, a wholly owned unit of Woolworth Corp. of New York, has said it wants to enter the bidding.

Woolworth said it was dismayed that Oshawa Group had entered what amounts to a lock-up agreement between Oshawa Group and Hudson's Bay on the sale of its 51 Towers stores (called Bonimart in Quebec). But the source suggested that since Hudson's Bay's offer had come unsolicited, Oshawa Group is not interested in opening its books to Woolworth.

If Hudson's Bay purchased the Towers stores, the chain would be converted to Zellers stores, raising that operation's annual sales by about 25 per cent to $2.7-billion, George Kusich, president of the Bay, has said.

At its fiscal year-end last January, Zellers had 208 stores and sales of $2.1-billion. It now has about 216 stores. according to Mr. Kosich. (Globe and Mail, Tuesday, October 16, 1990)

  • Zellers buys Towers/Bonimart from the Oshawa Group, 51 stores for $181.5 million ($3.6 million per store, or some $60 per square foot). Zellers buys another half billion dollars in sales and gets an 18 percent market share. President Paul Walters predicts Zellers will overtake Sears in 1991 sales. He also promises that Zellers will remain headquartered in Montreal ("Our roots are here; we wouldn't think of changing that"). Towers is doing some $90 per square foot. The Zellers marketing will bring most of the stores up to the Zellers productivity. 

  • Zellers clinches deal to take over Towers Hudson's Bay beats out Woolworth. Ross Cowan, retail analyst for Levesque Beaubien Geoffrion Inc., estimated the price may be up to $150-million. He described the sale as a good fit. "I think it's a great opportunity for Zellers." 

  • "Donald A. Beaumont, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Towers Department Stores Inc., announces the appointment of Al Leblanc as Vice President, Operations. He will be responsible for all functions relating to Store Operations and Customer Service. Mr. Leblanc joined Towers as a part time clerk in 1963 and, after graduating from Mohawk College, joined Towers on a full time basis in 1971. He has held a broad range of positions in Store Operations, and has been a District Manager for 11 years. 

  • Speculation is mounting that the giant Zellers Inc. chain is close to buying the Towers and Bonimart department stores run by Toronto's Oshawa Group Ltd. Officially, at least, neither side will comment on the prospects for a deal or even confirm that discussions are going on. "I can't say anything about it," said a spokesman for Zellers' Toronto-based parent Hudson's Bay Co. 

  • The takeover of the Towers department store chain by rival Zellers Inc. will cost at least 430 people their jobs. Zellers, a Montreal-based unit of Hudson's Bay Co., said yesterday that it plans to close the Towers merchandising and administration offices in Toronto and Montreal. Layoff notices have gone out to about 375 workers in Toronto and 55 in Montreal. The layoffs are effective Feb. 9. 
     

  • Vancouver Sun newspaper sizes up Zellers and Towers.

  • Thomson Financial Mergers and Acquisitions - Hudson's Bay Co acquires Oshawa-Towers/Bonimart Stores from Empire Co Ltd - Detailed Transaction Report.

  • Retail Business Holidays Act (1990) of Ontario originally prohibited most stores from opening on Sundays. However, there were many exceptions to these rules (for example, gas stations, convenience stores, tourist areas). Many store owners who opposed the law decided to open their stores on Sundays, knowing the fact that they were breaking the law.

In June 1990, Ontario Supreme Court found the Retail Business Holidays Act to be unconstitutional. As a result, Ontario had nine months of open-wide Sunday shopping, until Ontario Court of Appeal's reversal of the decision in March 1991.

However, public opposition to Sunday closing continued to rise. Bowing to public pressure, the Rae government passed the legislation in June 1992, to permit Sunday shopping in Ontario.

 

​​1991

  • Discount Store News reports that “48 Towers due for remake.”  The March 4, 1991 article goes on to detail the conversion. John Urie, Zellers executive vice president, expects sales of the latest Zellers prototype stores "...to show double digit percentage increases." 

 

  • Toronto Star reports that "Zellers sees banner year, plans expansion" in its March 6 edition. Paul Walters, Zellers president and chief executive officer, says "We are not retrenching - not pulling back and waiting for the storm to blow over. We intend to dominate the Canadian mass retail market, pure and simple." The purchase of Towers increased Zellers sales by about $500 million, Walters said. Analysts indicate that the purchase grew Zellers slice of the Canadian retail market to about 18 per cent, from 15 per cent. 

 

 

  • Donald A. Beaumont yesterday was appointed president and chief executive officer of K Mart Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of the K Mart Corporation, the third-largest American retailer. The new appointee comes to K Mart Canada from Towers Department Stores, a Canadian department store chain, with which he was associated since 1977, most recently as executive vice president and chief operating officer. He was the Towers vice president of marketing before that. Before joining Towers, he was with T. Eaton Company Ltd., one of Canada's largest retailers, for 20 years.

 

  • Zellers comfortable in tough retailing climate - Retailing Around the World: Endless Possibilities or Endless Problems? "...while successfully digesting its 6 month old Towers Department Stores acquisition--the 46 Towers stores it kept from the 51-unit chain have been fully converted to the Zellers format--Zellers was also cultivating new retail formats." 
     

  • "Towers is CHANGING... 
    We are pleased to announce that in the spring of 1991, your Towers store will change not only in name but in many other ways. We'll offer you a fabulous selection of merchandise - at even lower prices than in the past! In fact, very soon, the lowest price will become our law! NOTE: Starting February 13th, 1991, our fantastic sales events will begin on Wednesdays!" Toronto Star ad, January 26, 1991
     

  • Simpsons closes - Simpsons was acquired by Hudson’s Bay Co. in 1978 and merged with HBC in 1991.
     

  • "Zellers is determined to be Canada's No. 1 retailer. Revenue rose to $679.8-million, partly the result of the acquisition of 51 Towers and Bonimart stores from Toronto-based Oshawa Group Ltd. last year." Globe & Mail, December 6, 1991

1992

1994

  • Woolco closes. The $1.7 billion debt incurred from international specialty store expansion, the Woolworth Corporation sold most of the Woolco Canada stores to Walmart. Walmart did not acquire the Woolco stores that were either unionized or had downtown locations. Some Woolco stores were sold and re-opened as Zellers stores; when Zellers liquidated, some of those stores were later sold to Target Canada in order to repay its debt.


1995

  • Ed Harsant, appointed Towers Vice President Operations in 1981, joins The Business Depot as President.

1996

1998

  • PRESS RELEASE Empire Company to acquire Oshawa Group for 1.5 Billion (November 2, 1998).

    Paul Sobey, C.E.O. of Empire, said: "We are delighted that we have concluded this deal with the support of the Wolfe Family and the Oshawa board of directors. This deal is consistent with Empire's strategy of building long term shareholder value through the creation of a national food business which will be one of the largest integrated food distribution companies in Canada".

    Doug Stewart, C.E.O. of Sobeys Inc., who will continue as C.E.O. of the combined company, said: "The combination of Sobeys Inc. and Oshawa will be an excellent strategic fit creating significant synergies. This is a win-win situation for our stakeholders. We will operate a portfolio of highly competitive stores and a foodservice distribution business across Canada".

    Oshawa Chairman Allister Graham said: "The market is rapidly evolving to a point where the merging of our two companies will create a national distributor capable of successfully competing in Canada."

     

  • Announced at Oshawa Group's General Meeting that two top executives will leave.
     

  • Oshawa said Allister Graham, chief executive officer, will retire in the near future, at which time there will be "an orderly change in authority at the senior level." 
     

  • Jonathan Wolfe, president and chief operating officer, also announced his resignation, after it was revealed that he wasn't being considered as a successor to Graham. 
     

  • The company said it has a short list of candidates to replace Graham, all of whom are from outside the company.
     

  • "Hudson's Bay Co. agreed to buy discount retailer Kmart Canada Co. for $168 million, including debt, and will fire 4,000 to 6,000 employees after it combines the newly acquired business with its Zellers chain. Toronto-based Hudson's Bay, Canada's largest retailer, said it will merge its 298 Zellers discount stores with Kmart Canada's 112 locations and close more than 40 of the combined companies' stores. The dismissals represent as much as 8.6% of the 70,000 workers Hudson's Bay will have after the transaction. The acquisition eliminates Hudson's Bay's smaller discount rival, leaving Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of the U.S. as the only other major discounter doing business in Canada. It also gives a boost to the poorly performing Zellers chain, which has been losing sales to Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer." (LA Times, February 7, 1998)

1999

  • Eaton's files for bankruptcy; assets purchased by Sears Canada.
     

2000

  • Staples Inc. Names Edward C. Harsant As President, North American Superstores Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS), the office supplies and services retailer, today announced it has named Edward C. Harsant, currently president of its Canadian operation, called The Business Depot, Ltd., to the newly created position of president, North American Superstores for Staples.​
     

2001

2004

2007

  • When Canadian ad executive, Colleen DeCourcy, was asked for a piece in AD WEEK magazine (March 12, 2007) if she remembered her first ad, she commented "Yes. I knew I had no chance of getting something sold through this group since I was so young. It was for Towers, a Canadian department store, and its line was always “Towers, we’re part of your family.” There was a promotion on Henckels knives and I did a piece with Charles Manson and Henckels knives, knowing it would never get bought."

 

2011

  • On January 13, HBC announces an agreement with Target for an approximately $1.8 billion sale for the leases of 189 Zellers stores so that HBC could focus on department stores and specialty businesses, and repay debt. The remainder of the stores that were not purchased by Target would be closed down by March 30, 2013 — except three locations in Montreal North (which would close January 2014), Queensway/Etobicoke, and Surrey. Loblaws acquired the majority Zellers pharmacy business for $35 million. After a Facebook campaign garnered almost 30,000 votes, one of Zellers’ most important assets, the beloved mascot Zeddy, found a new home, selected by customers and associates: Camp Trillium in Hamilton, Ontario — a camp supporting children undergoing cancer treatment.​
     

  • Target Corporation announces the purchase of 220 leasehold interests from Zellers Inc. for $1.825 billion. From the initial 220 Zellers leases, Target announces it has picked 105 store locations across all 10 Canadian provinces to develop into Target stores. The company plans to invest an average of $10 million to renovate each site.

 

2012

  • The first 50 Zellers stores are liquidated. This includes all 39 Zellers stores slated to become Walmart outlets. By mid-June, the latter locations were closed to the public. On June 25, 2012, 17 more stores in Ontario were put in liquidation.
     

  • Hudson's Bay Company announced on July 26, 2012, that it would close most of the 64 remaining stores that were supposed to continue operating as Zellers outlets. A company spokesperson stated that these stores employ 6,400 people, or approximately 100 per location, range in size from 48,000 to 128,000 square feet and are mostly in small towns. HBC's main reason for closing the 64 remaining stores was due to Zellers' lack of profitability.

2013

  • Target Canada opens- Canadian subsidiary of the American-based department store chain Target Corporation.
     

  • Target Canadian commercial.

2014

  • Target announces a loss of US$941 million on its Canadian operations for 2013 on revenue of a disappointing US$1.3 billion.

2015

  • Target announces plan to exit Canada, citing its inability “...to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021.”


 

2016

  • From Bizapedia, "Towers Department Stores Inc. is a Canada Corporation. The company's filing status is listed as Inactive and its File Number is 2682991. The company's principal address is 401 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5H 2Y4 CA.

    The company has 7 principals on record. The principals are Brian C. Grose from Oakville ON, G.J. Kosich from Toronto ON, G.J. Lukassen from Mississauga ON, John A. Tory from Toronto ON, K.R. Thomson from Toronto ON, Marcel Belanger from Quebec QC, and Paul S. Walters from Beaconsfield QC."