The Bay is a chain of 94 fashion department stores that operate across parts of Canada. It is the main brand of Hudson's Bay Company, North America's oldest company. Although Hudson's Bay Company opened its first department store in 1881, the name "The Bay" appeared in 1964 when Hudson's Bay Company decided to change the name of its Morgan's department stores with the exception of those located in Quebec, which would get converted to the new name only in 1972. In Quebec the chain is known as la Baie, short for "Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson", and the chain uses both the English and French versions of the name in some parts of the country.
The stores are full-line department stores, with a focus on apparel, accessories, and home goods. Most price points are mid- to upper-mid; however there is an assortment of everyday low-price merchandise. The Bay can be compared to U.S. retailer Macy's, and is more up-market than Sears Canada department stores. The average store is 135,000 square feet (12,500 m�). Flagship downtown stores exist in Canada's largest cities, including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. These stores are larger in size and carry a much broader range of goods than their mall counterparts.
In 1991, after 320 years, Hudson Bay Company stopped selling fur. The decision was regarded as a response to widespread, public sentiment opposing the perceived inhumane killing of animals for clothing; however, in 1997 the company reopened their fur salons in Bay stores. Animal rights groups, such as Freedom for Animals, have been campaigning to get the Bay to once again stop selling fur.
Recent additions to larger (namely flagship) stores of the Bay include the Style Outlet and Pharmamart sections. Style Outlets, off-price departments located in 14 stores, offer designer labels at discounted prices, much like the Winners chain. This department, introduced in 2003, was the launching pad for HBC's newest division, Designer Depot, which launched in the fall of 2004.
Pharmamart is a centre that includes basic grocery and household items and, among other amenities, a pharmacy. This can be interpreted as an attempt to compete directly with Shoppers Drug Mart, Wal-Mart or others, and also as a response to the success of the basic grocery addition in the modern Zellers prototype.
In Downtown Toronto, the Queen Street Bay store, formerly Simpsons, includes the Department 'St. Regis Room' on the third floor. It is an upscale women's clothing department carrying some of the most prestigious and expensive women's designer labels in Canada. Designers include Givenchy, Christian Lacroix, Emmanuel Ungaro, Balmain, Valentino Roma, Armani Collezioni, Louis Feraud, Karl Lagerfeld, Lida Baday, Andrew Gn, Bellville Sassoon, David Hayes, and others.
Started in 2007, exterior restorations are currently underway at three of the company's flagship stores in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. A new store in Waterloo, Ontario is being built to replace an older, smaller location for 2008.