By  on April 2, 2007

BARCELONA — Federated Department Stores is contemplating international expansion, Terry Lundgren, the retailer's chairman, president and chief executive officer, told a conference of retailers here Friday.

Speaking at the World Re­tail Conference, Lundgren said he was in the early stages of "investigating" the "global expansion" of the Macy's and Bloomingdale's banners.

Though he stressed a jump abroad was at a "very early stage," Lundgren said a successful international play held vast potential.

"It would have to be a meaningful opportunity," said Lundgren. He underscored that it would have to be part of a clear strategy and create value for shareholders.

He did not indicate where his early leanings would lead him to plant Macy's or Bloomingdale's flags.

Lundgren said it was only a matter of time before an American department store retailer became bullish about overseas expansion. Saks Fifth Avenue and Harvey Nichols already have opened stores in the Middle East and, earlier this month, France's Galeries Lafayette said it would open in Dubai. Saks also is planning to open a store in Shanghai, while Harvey Nichols has one in Hong Kong. But in the case of Saks, the overseas stores are operated by a franchise partner, with little financial risk on the part of the U.S. retailer.

"There has to be someone who will break through in multiple markets," said Lundgren. "It hasn't been done at the department store level."

There are companies that operate department stores in different markets, albeit under several banners. Galen Weston owns Selfridges in the U.K., as well as Brown Thomas in Ireland and Holt Renfrew in Canada. Italy's Maurizio Borletti is trying to build a pan-European department store group via his ownership of La Rinascente in Italy and Printemps in France.

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