Fred Hubbell Lies About Why He Closed Younkers Stores

Sir Frederick Hubbell may have bought the nomination for Governor, but he can’t rewrite history even as he desperately misleads Iowans about his time running Younkers.

“Fred Hubbell is running from the truth: when he led Younkers, he put profits over people and made decisions that kicked working people to the curb,” said Jesse Dougherty, Communications Director for the Republican Party of Iowa. “Hubbell ordered the closing of several ‘marginally profitable’ Younkers stores in rural Iowa in favor of ‘larger markets’ with higher returns. The decisions made at Younkers tell Iowans everything they need to know about Fred Hubbell.”

This weekend on Iowa Press, Hubbell was asked about Younkers, where he was Chairman from 1985 to 1992. Hubbell admitted that he had to close stores in Iowa when he was leading the company, but claimed that the 1980s Farm Crisis contributed to his “tough” business decisions. But that’s not what really happened.

Here’s The Record:

Fred Hubbell was the Chairman of Younkers, from 1985 to 1992.

In July 1990, when Hubbell was Chairman, Younkers announced plans to lay-off 40 employees as “a general belt-tightening effort” – a fellow Younkers Executive called the job losses “Not something of real significance.” (Source: “Younkers plans belt-tightening, eyes 40 layoffs,” Des Moines Register, July 20, 1990)

Later in December 1990, Younkers announced plans to close three stores, including two in rural Iowa – 60 jobs would be lost as a Younkers Executive said the company needed to focus on urban areas.

  • Much to the disappointment of shoppers and business leaders in the area, two Iowa Younkers stores were closed in Spencer and Newton.
  • A Younkers executive Tom Gould admitted the company was not actually losing money on its stores in these two rural towns – rather, the executive said Younkers was prioritizing its stores in larger cities, where the company could maximize its profits.
    • Gould was hired in 1985 and reported directly to Fred Hubbell. “Gould will have responsibility for all merchandising and store operations and will report to Fred Hubbell. As chief executive officer, Hubbell will be responsible for the firm’s financial and administrative matters.” (Source: “Younkers taps Gould,” Sioux City Journal, June 23, 1985)

The company stressed that the stores in Spencer and Newton simply didn’t fit the Younkers mold, saying they’d have “a much better return on our investment in our larger stores.” The stores didn’t make enough money to justify the expense of keeping them open, said Younkers President Tom Gould. “They’re marginally profitable,” he said. “We feel it’s important that we focus our time, people and attention on our larger markets.” (Source: “Younkers plans to close three smallest stores,” Des Moines Register, December 28, 1990)

Fred Hubbell didn’t close these stores because of the Farm Crisis. They admitted themselves that those stores were profitable, but they wanted to prioritize stores in “larger markets.” Now it appears that the recent closings are merely the corporate liquidators finishing what Fred Hubbell started.