Activist wants a real estate play at HBC

Hudson’s Bay Co. should close and redevelop the stores it owns if it can’t operate profitably as a retailer, according to a U.S. activist investor who revealed his interest on Monday.“Hudson’s Bay is a real estate company, full stop,” reads the public letter to HBC’s board of directors from Jonathan Litt, founder and chief investment officer of Land & Buildings Investment Management, LLC, based in Stamford, Conn.The firm has acquired approximately 4.3 per cent of Hudson’s Bay shares.“If there is a smarter and better use of any or all of the locations, stores should be closed and redeveloped and put towards their optimal use,” reads the letter from Litt.It points to the Saks Fifth Avenue location across from the Rockefeller Center in New York City as an example of HBC’s prime real estate, describing the spot as “likely one of the most valuable locations not only in Manhattan, but in the United States,” and asks whether the best use of the property is as a store.Article Continued Below“What about a hotel? Or office? Or boutique retail stores the likes of Apple and Gucci? Or an internet retailer looking to go upscale through a bricks and mortar presence as Amazon appears to be doing with its purchase of Whole Foods,” the letter goes on to ask.Hudson’s Bay should evaluate all strategic options, including selling or repurposing real estate or taking the company private, according to Litt. HBC acknowledged receipt of the letter, but declined to comment. “The Company is reviewing the letter and will respond in due course,” it said in a statement.