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Hope Fields may not close

Fields Holding Company has entered into a tentative agreement with HBC to keep the store open
A buyer is currently in negotiations with HBC to take over the lease of Fields in Hope.

Hudson’s Bay Company is in the process of negotiating a deal to keep the Fields store open in Hope.

Fields Holding Company (FHC) has entered into a tentative agreement with HBC to purchase the rights to 59 retail outlets in Western Canada, including the stores in Hope and Merritt. Local company I.F. Corbett Enterprises Ltd. owns the buildings that house those two locations.

President Hilbert Corbett said FHC has agreed to take over both leases in August and its his understanding that the stores will continue to operate under the same name and with the same inventory and staff.

“Everything will continue the way it is with no interruptions for which I’m thankful,” said Corbett, adding that his father first signed the lease with Fields in Hope 40 years ago.

In February, HBC announced that it would close all 167 stores in Canada by fall 2012. Tiffany Bourre, HBC external communications manager, said the strategic decision was made to focus on growing other HBC banners like The Bay, Home Outfitters, and Lord & Taylor.

FHC was created for the purpose of acquiring Fields locations by Jason McDougall, owner of McFrugals Discount Outlet stores, and a group of long-time retailers and investors.

The Bargain! Shop announced last month it will also be taking over 10 retail outlets on Aug. 1, including the Fields store in Agassiz.

Glen Ogren, president of the Hope & District Chamber of Commerce, wasn’t surprised to hear that a buyer has stepped up to acquire the local store. He said it wasn’t a matter of if and when, but rather who would be first in line.

“It’s very good news. I think people were very upset when (the closure was announced) because you did have the possibility that more jobs would be lost in the community,” said Ogren, noting that the discount retail outlet has proved to be a profitable business in the community.

“If one store shuts down in Hope, it’s very hard on the business landscape. So you don’t want businesses to close.”