Purchase of 57 stores keep Fields doors open in Comox

Despite a near closure of its stores in March, the Fields store in the Comox Centre Mall will remain open.

Despite a near closure of its stores in March, the Fields store in the Comox Centre Mall — along with others across Western Canada — will remain open.Tuesday, the company announced it was purchased by Vancouver-based FHC Holdings Ltd, from its former owner, Hudson’s Bay Company.The transaction sees 57 stores purchased across B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. “We’re absolutely thrilled, and so are all of our customers,” said Susan Abric, manager of the Comox store. “We’re really happy, and there’s going to be some positive changes.”The first Fields store opened in Vancouver in 1950 by Joseph Segal, and have been a fixture in small communities for decades. Segal’s initial focus on discount family clothing expanded over the next two decades as he acquired other retailers, including several Bay store in the B.C. Interior.By 1971, Fields expanded into Alberta. In 1976, Fields bought 50 per cent of the Zellers chain. Two years later, Hudson Bay bought Zellers, a purchase that included Fields.”The goal is to bring in the merchandise that makes the most sense for each community we serve, and we’re looking forward to brining in a selection of great products and merchandise to communities across the West,” explained Jason McDougall, FHC president in a press release.In March, Fields announced it was closing its operations in the fall. The company shut down 26 of its stores in Ontario last month.FHC noted they considered a number of factors when determining which stores to purchase from HBC. They added once the remaining Fields stores operating under HBC close, FHC will look at opportunities to work directly with landlords to potentially continue the Fields operations in those communities. Financing for the sale was provided by Royal Bank of Canada.Abric said when the news initially came down of the store closing, customers were disappointed.”Customers were sad because we’re a unique store and there’s nothing else out there in the mall quite like us,” she noted. “But they were absolutely thrilled that we are staying (open).”Abric added there will be no job loss by the transaction.Locations on Vancouver Island that FHC has acquired in addition to the Comox location include Parksville, Port Hardy and Port McNeill. photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com