Over and out for iconic department store chain Lord & Taylor

One of the stores belonging to retail chain Lord & Taylor
Photo: Shutterstock.com

The oldest department store chain in the United States, Lord & Taylor, will not make it to its 200th anniversary. Six years short of that milestone, it failed to find new investors and had to close its 38 remaining stores.


Everything must go

Just a month ago, the chain made a last attempt to save itself by applying for judicial protection. The plan then was to close "just" 19 stores as part of a thorough restructuring. The liquidators have immediately started huge sales to monetise both the remaining stocks and all the store furniture, CNN reports.


Lord & Taylor was founded in 1826 by two English immigrants, Samuel Lord and George Washington Taylor, who opened their first store in Manhattan's Lower East Side. It later moved its flagship to the iconic Times Square. Clothing rental business Le Tote bought the chain from the Hudson's Bay Company just last year and tried to rejuvenate the retail mammoth, but to no avail.


Not alone

Lord & Taylor is yet another retail icon that received a knock-out blow from the coronavirus: competitors like Neimann Marcus and JCPenney have applied for the 'Chapter 11' procedure to try to stay afloat, while Barney’s already proved unable to rise up again. A lot of department stores appear unable to reinvent themselves after the apparition on the market of strong category killers and - of course - e-commerce.


The picture is the same in Europe, where German Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof was forced to close 50 stores and cut thousands of jobs and British Debenhams axed 4,000 jobs in order to survive. However, analysts think that there still are opportunities for department stores - provided they really go for luxury, digitisation and a marketplace strategy. Erik Van Heuven and Stefan Van Rompaey show in their book The Future of Department Stores that the future will be 'phygital', with an important role for food as experience enhancer.


quote professor Laurens Sloot