Vendor Credit Managers Sanguine About Who Wins the Fight for Macy’s

DALLAS -- While the battle for bankrupt R.H. Macy & Co. rages on, the credit managers for several of Macy's vendors are surprisingly unconcerned about the outcome.<BR><BR>Last week, Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lifland, with hopes of breaking a...

DALLAS — While the battle for bankrupt R.H. Macy & Co. rages on, the credit managers for several of Macy’s vendors are surprisingly unconcerned about the outcome.

Last week, Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lifland, with hopes of breaking a mediation stalemate, directed Macy’s to file a plan “as soon as possible.” On Sunday, as reported, Federated Department Stores Inc. said that despite Judge Lifland’s request, it had not given up its merger plans with Macy’s.

The credit managers, interviewed during the National Association of Credit Management’s 98th Credit Congress and Exposition here, said they don’t have time to keep up with the Macy’s Chapter 11 case, having long ago given up hope of a substantial payout, and don’t care which entity ultimately controls Macy’s.

Federated’s pursuit of a merger with Macy’s is troubling to some vendors who believe combining the two companies will decrease competition and ultimately reduce the number of stores that buy from them.

However, from a credit manager’s point of view, either outcome would be acceptable.

Both stores, they said, pay their bills on time and pose no credit risk.

“The battle for Macy’s has had no effect on our business and Macy’s Chapter 11 filing didn’t pose any undue risk for us,” said Lee E. Teigen, director of corporate credit at Oshkosh B’Gosh Inc., OshKosh, Wis., echoing the sentiments of several other vendors’ credit managers.

“We have no problem with Macy’s paying their bills and we will keep supporting them,” he said. “If they wanted to double their business with us, I would have no qualms about OK’ing the credit for it.”

Teigen said he wasn’t concerned about a possible merger of the two chains, both of which carry OshKosh products. “Herald Square will always be a retailing location no matter who owns it,” Teigen added.

“Macy’s was a good customer before it filed Chapter 11, always paying its bills on time, and has been a good customer and pays its bills on time since it filed,” said Debbie Herdere, credit accounts receivable manager at Guess Inc., Los Angeles.

At Starter Corp., a New Haven, Conn.-based activewear and licensed apparel manufacturer which started selling Macy’s about a year ago, there was no anxiety over the Macy’s Chapter 11 case.

“They are paying their bills on time and, while there are a few of the normal discrepancies, nothing is out of the ordinary,” said Pamela J. Miller, corporate credit manager. Not every credit manager, though, was completely sanguine. Anthony P. Tempesta, director of credit and receivables at The Rockport Co., Marlboro, Mass., a shoe manufacturer, said he is not totally comfortable with Macy’s situation.

“I don’t know what I’d do if Macy’s came to us tomorrow and said they wanted to double their Rockport business,” he said. “I’d have to really think about doubling the amount of credit we now give them.”

Separately, one Wall Street brokerage firm said Federated should not increase its $3.8 billion offer for Macy’s or risk overpaying for the retailer.

“At this juncture, the pro forma impact of the company’s current bid is too difficult to judge, considering the warrants and collars attached to the deal,” said the broker, Kidder, Peabody & Co. Inc., in a research report on Federated. “However, we would be very disappointed if [Federated] increases its bid above the indicated $3.8 billion value.”