For the American city, see Belk, Alabama. For places in Poland, see Bełk (disambiguation).
Belk, Inc.
Industry Retail
Predecessor Belk Brothers
Founded 1888 (Monroe, North Carolina, United States)
Founder William Henry Belk
Headquarters Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Number of locations
300 (February 2014)[1]
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.
Revenue $4.0 billion (FY 2014)
Owner Sycamore Partners
Number of employees
24,700 (2014 Annual Report)

Belk, Inc. (stylized as belk) is a department store chain founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, North Carolina with 300 locations in 16 states. Belk stores and offer apparel, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, home furnishings and wedding registry.


The first Belk, established as New York Racket, in 1902.

Belk was founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, North Carolina, outside Charlotte. The store was first called "New York Racket" and then "Belk Brothers," after Belk made his brother, physician Dr. John Belk, his partner. Belk bought in volume to pass savings on and sold at fixed prices, then a relatively unusual practice.[2]

By 1909, the company had moved its headquarters to Charlotte and built a huge flagship store on Trade and Tryon Streets in downtown Charlotte, which would remain the company's headquarters until it was closed in 1988 to make way for the construction of what is now Bank of America Corporate Center. The business grew steadily, relying on "bargain sales" and advertising to grow the business and increase its influence throughout the South.

Beginning in 1921 with the Leggett Bros. stores of South Boston, Virginia, the Belk company grew by investing in various partnerships with local merchandisers in nearby markets.[3] (This complex story is more extensively chronicled in a book[4] about the evolution of the company.)

This structure allowed Belk to expand quickly and permitted local variation, but resulted in a diluted brand identity since most stores were co-branded. By the 1990s, the system had become increasingly untenable: stores were held by over 350 separate legal entities, Belk family members disagreed about whether to maintain or sweep away the structure, and some local partners threatened stability by selling their stakes. For example, the heirs of John G. Parks, majority owners of the Parks-Belk chain, sold their interests to Proffitt's, a competitor. The Belks quickly sold their stake as well, although Belk would later purchase the stores back as part of its later acquisition of the entire Proffitt's chain. When Proffitt's made an offer for the Leggett family's stake, which included 42 stores comprising about 20 percent of Belk's revenue, John and Tom Belk were forced to respond by forming a new company in 1996 that bought the Leggetts out. This move accelerated the slow trend of consolidating the store's ownership under the Belks.[5]

Belk Bros. store in Charlotte, North Carolina around 1910.

In 1998, the company formed a new entity (Belk, Inc.) that merged the 112 remaining Belk companies, swapping the existing partners' local interests for shares in the combined entity; for example, the Hudson family in Raleigh received almost 5% of the shares.[6] Slowly, Belk eliminated the dual brands, completing the process with a chain-wide Belk rebranding in the fall of 2010.

On July 5, 2005, Belk completed the purchase of 47 Proffitt's and McRae's department stores from Saks Incorporated, primarily in Tennessee and Mississippi. Belk converted the 39 Proffitt's and McRae's stores to the Belk nameplate on March 8, 2006.[7] Just over a year later, Belk purchased 38 Parisian department stores from Saks on October 2, 2006. Although most Parisian stores were converted to the Belk nameplate since September 12, 2007, some duplicate Parisian stores were closed, as at The Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo, Mississippi, Richland Mall (then known as Midtown at Forest Acres), Columbiana Centre in Columbia, South Carolina, and Citadel Mall in Charleston, South Carolina. Four Parisian stores in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, plus a store under construction at the time in Michigan, were sold by Belk to The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. Integrating the larger, more upscale Parisian stores proved a challenge for Belk, and spurred the creation of the company's flagship strategy.[8]

During the fourth quarter of 2005, Belk completed the sale of its private-label credit card division, Belk National Bank, to GE MoneyBank. Consumers were issued new Belk credit cards replacing the old ones issued by BNB. All new Belk cards are now issued by GE Money Bank.[9]

On October 3, 2010, the News & Observer reported that Belk planned to update its logo.[10] On October 12 at SouthPark Mall, Belk introduced the new logo, its first since 1967. The chain embarked on a $70 million marketing campaign that replaced the old slogan "All for You!" with a new slogan, "Modern. Southern. Style." Sixty stores got new signs in the first phase, with the remainder getting new signs throughout 2011.[11] Advertisements for Belk & Co. jewelry continue to use a variation of the old logo.

On April 3, 2015, news reports revealed that Belk was exploring "strategic alternatives," including a possible sale of the company.[12]

On August 24, 2015, Belk announced that it had entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners.[13] The acquisition was completed on December 10, 2015.[14]

On June 29, 2016, Belk announced that effective as of July 5, Lisa Harper, CEO of Hot Topic, would replace Tim Belk as CEO of Belk. This would be the first time since the founding of the company that a non-Belk family member would head the company.[15]

Company today

The chain operates 300 stores in 16 states, generating US$4 billion in sales in 2014. Its typical store covers 100,000 to 180,000 square feet. 50% of its stores are in regional malls, another 40% in open-air community or power shopping centers, and 10% in open-air lifestyle centers.[16]

Class A and Class B common stock shares are publicly traded on the OTCBB market, a 2011 SEC proxy filing shows over 90 percent of the Class A stock held by Belk family interests.[17]

Former Belk logo used from 1967 to 2010. The "All for you!" slogan was used from the late 1990s onward.

Even as Belk has made its recent acquisitions, the chain has operated limited electronic commerce on its website, and those websites acquired and redirected to Home furnishings such as bedding, small kitchen appliances, crystal, dinnerware, and china have been offered for several years to online shoppers, as a part of the chain's online bridal and gift registry. The chain revamped its website and registry on September 15, 2008. Celebrity-branded product lines are another pursuit, including a partnership with actress Kristin Davis for a ladies' apparel and accessories collection which debuted in fall 2008 in 125 store locations and online. However, that product line was discontinued in late 2009.[18]

In December 2010 Belk announced that beginning in 2011 it would become the title sponsor for the former Meineke Car Care Bowl (played in Charlotte), now renamed the Belk Bowl. The sponsorship would continue for three years.[19] The first Belk Bowl drew 58,427 fans in 2011, and the 2013 game drew 48,128.[20] On July 18, 2013, Belk announced the six-year extension of the Belk Bowl's partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning in 2014.[21] Under the current agreement the bowl will feature teams from the ACC and the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

Flagship locations

The chain has multiple "flagship" locations—larger locations in urban and metropolitan centers,[22] and a wider array of merchandise and services including in-store salons.[23][24] As of 2014, the chain claimed 18 flagship locations, and plans to upgrade more locations.


  1. "View All Stores". 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  2. Womick, Chip (December 2010). "Main Street Merchant". Our State. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  3. Womick, Chip. "Main Street Merchant".
  4. 1 2 "History". 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  5. Bull, Becky (7 October 1996). "Belk making small moves to fight foes". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  6. Mildenberg, David (12 January 1998). "Hudson role appears vital to Belk future". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  7. Davis, Lisa. "What's in store for Belk" (November 2008). Archived from the original on 2015-01-03.
  8. "View All Stores". 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  9. "NC-based Belk department stores get new logo". The Charlotte Observer. 2010-10-03. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  10. Valle, Kirsten (2010-10-12). "Belk unveils its new logo at SouthPark". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
  11. Peralta, Katherine (2 April 2015). "Belk exploring possibility of selling company". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  12. "Belk, Inc. Enters Into Definitive Agreement To Be Acquired By Sycamore Partners". PR Newswire. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  13. "Sycamore Partners Completes Acquisition Of Belk, Inc.". Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  14. Butler-Young, Sheena (2016-06-29). "Tim Belk To Step Down As Belk CEO, Hot Topic's Lisa Harper To Step In". Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  15. Belk, Inc. "Form 10-K Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2014". US Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  16. "Def14a". Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  17. "Belk Bowl chief confident despite smaller crowd". Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-18. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  19. Thomas, Jennifer (9 April 2014). "Belk opens flagship store in Dallas". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  20. "Customer Service -". Belk Salons and Spas. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  21. Lucy Berry. "Store openings, construction, negotiations on summer agenda at Bridge Street Town Centre (photos)". Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  22. "Belk to make Phipps Plaza store a high-end 'flagship'". Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  23. "Belk plans makeover for Riverchase Galleria store, other new investments across the chain". 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  24. "Saks Fifth Avenue is leaving the Galleria; Belk is moving in | Business | Dallas News". 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  25. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  26. WFMY (9 July 2014). "Opening Dates Announced For Belk Store At Friendly Center". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  27. "Belk to Invest $16 Million for Major Improvements to Greensboro and High Point, NC Stores". Retrieved 2016-10-27.

External links

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