Smaller stores used primarily as showrooms to display product; fixtures that show actual and virtual items and allow customers to search dot-com and store inventory; testing a full-line store in an outlet mall, and finding new ways to extract and apply information from the My Macy’s localization program were all among the topics discussed at the Macy’s Inc. investor meeting Tuesday.
“I can imagine certain stores that haven’t carried a full inventory of textiles [bedding and other products that take a lot of room to display] may be able to sample those products now,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Macy’s. “We will have great confidence in fast delivery. We may be able to have smaller-sized stores that are largely for samples.
“We will try everything,” Lundgren continued. “We’ll try 10 things and if two work, we’ll follow through on them.”
Another test: a Macy’s full-line store at the Gurnee Mills outlet center in Gurnee, Ill., which could become a template for a new concept. “If this works, it will obviously open up new ideas to think about, such as expansion in those centers with smaller footprint stores,” Lundgren said. Macy’s isn’t interested in opening bona-fide outlet stores because Macy’s sale prices and outlet store price points are very close.
“We’re testing [fixtures] that allow customers to see physical product and search all the inventory between dot-com and stores,” he said. “We’re investing big time in mobile devices. We have a mobile app, but there’s a lot more we can do to leverage that experience to blend technology with in-store to facilitate the purchase.”
During the question-and-answer session, Lundgren was asked if the company could support another $1 billion of debt. Karen Houget, chief financial officer, said, “We do have capacity to add some debt.” “Good observation,” Lundgren told the analyst. The ever-cautious Houget said, “Could be.”
The next question seemed logical: “As you look at the retail landscape, what is your appetite for mergers and acquisitions?” “You never know, but I don’t really see signs of opportunity for us in America,” Lundgren said. “There could be something elsewhere. We have close to 800 Macy’s boxes. There’s opportunity for Bloomingdale’s to grow. We’re in most of the key markets. If we acquired something [in the U.S.], it would be duplicative on the Macy’s side.”
Speaking of international, Michael Gould, chairman and ceo of Bloomingdale’s, which opened its first unit outside the U.S. in Dubai five years ago, sounded fairly bullish, but said everything depended on finding the right partner. “This is not just a concession business,” Gould said of the store. “Every major creative issue goes through us. I go twice a year.
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