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Jeffrey ShermanDeborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Hudson's Bay Trading Co. says its president and co-chief executive officer, a veteran of the U.S. retail industry who was hired less than two years ago to breathe new life into Canada's oldest company, will retire on June 1.

Jeffrey Sherman, 61, was a key player behind the highly touted revamp of the 340-year-old company's Canadian retail operations after HBC changed hands in July, 2008.

He was responsible for all of its banners including The Bay, Zellers, and Home Outfitters. The company says there are no plans to replace him.

Retail analyst John Winter said that while Mr. Sherman's stay at Hudson's Bay has been brief, his influence can be seen inside the stores.

"You walk into a Hudson's Bay Co. or a Zellers and you now have employees who actually smile at you, and talk to you, rather than talking to their friends on the telephone," said the head of John Winter and Associates.

"That is a remarkable change."

However, Mr. Winter noted that Hudson's Bay still has to contend with strong competitor like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. which is trying to steal customers away from Zellers, and Sears Canada Inc., which is facing off with The Bay.

"There has been significant improvements in the last year, but it's going to take a long time to turn around those two companies," Mr. Winter said.

Hudson's Bay, which traces its history to the early days of European exploration and settlement in what is now Canada, was a public company until it was bought and taken private by South Carolina businessman Jerry Zucker in 2006.

Following Mr. Zucker's death from cancer in April, 2008, his widow sold the business to a New York-based private equity fund that owns U.S. department store chain Lord & Taylor.

Richard Baker, a principal with NRDC Equity Partners, became the 38th governor of Hudson's Bay - a vestige of its origins and in the early fur trade - and brought in Mr. Sherman shortly afterwards.

Mr. Sherman had previously held executive roles at Bloomingdales department stores, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. and other big-name U.S. retailers.

Mr. Baker, who remains HBC's chairman and Mr. Sherman's fellow CEO, said in an announcement Monday there is now a strong team of retail presidents at the subsidiary companies.

"Jeff has built a strong leadership team of retail presidents who effectively repositioned the company with consumers, improved the overall financial performance and structure of the organization and led our team through the enormously successful Olympic program that captured the hearts and hands of Canadians."

Mr. Sherman said he looks forward to retirement, knowing the company is in "very capable hands."