Ja­son Mcdougall

BC Business Magazine - - Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018 - –J.W.


Ja­son Mcdougall con­vinced Hud­son's Bay Co. to sell him Fields, a chain of 57 small-town dis­count stores across Canada, with no idea how he would come up with the fi­nanc­ing. Founded in 1948 by Van­cou­ver bil­lion­aire Joe Segal, the re­tailer had been owned by HBC since 1978. But in 2011, the par­ent com­pany an­nounced that it was clos­ing Fields.

“It was a crazy, hair-rais­ing process,” Mcdougall says of as­sem­bling a $1-mil­lion non-re­fund­able de­posit by April 2012. The FHC En­ter­prises chief ex­ec­u­tive, who grew up in the vil­lage of Liberty, Saskatchewan, bor­rowed against all his as­sets and called in favours from friends. To close the deal a month later, he had to se­cure an­other $12 mil­lion in bank loans.

Then came the task of re­viv­ing a mon­ey­los­ing busi­ness. Mcdougall's first move was to re­in­state an em­ployee ben­e­fits plan that HBC had can­celled, “even though we couldn't af­ford it.” Sales dropped sig­nif­i­cantly in the first month, tak­ing a few weeks to re­cover. To­day Mcdougall is see­ing re­turns from his com­mu­nity-fo­cused ap­proach, which gives store man­agers au­ton­omy to re­spond to lo­cal needs. Over the past six years, rev­enue has grown by more than 50 per­cent. Delta-head­quar­tered Fields is now prof­itable, with 62 lo­ca­tions across B.C., Al­berta, Saskatchewan, Man­i­toba and the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries–and plans for more.

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