By  on May 9, 1994

NEW YORK -- Despite all the chaos created by its Chapter 11 filing in January 1992, the difficult negotiations over a reorganization plan and a takeover attempt by Federated Department Stores, the $6.3 billion R.H. Macy & Co. remains a force in U.S. retailing.

Myron E. Ullman, Macy's chairman and chief executive officer, is the man in the middle of one of the most tumultuous periods the legendary chain has ever experienced.

The other day, he sat for a wide-ranging interview in his offices in the Herald Square flagship and although he did not address the bid by Federated and said little about Macy's Chapter 11 situation, he did talk at length about some of the store strategies implemented in the wake of its bankruptcy filing.

Ullman also cited the growth in moderate sportswear, the rebound at I. Magnin, specialty store expansion involving Aeropostale and Charter Clubs and outlined the status of TV Macy, which he expects to reach television screens next year.

Q: Do you expect a second-half retail pickup?

A: I think most analysts are talking about the apparel cycle, which obviously has been in a trough for an extended period. We're cautious in our planning. We'd rather err on the side of a 2 or 3 percent comp-store growth. Keep in mind our primary markets are the Northeast and California, which have lagged all other markets in terms of recovery. But in the long run, we think Macy's will benefit because those areas are the most populated, contemporary markets. The fact that we have large stores that are well located, and assortments that appeal to a broad cross-section of customers, is the strength of our franchise.

Q: What have been the strongest categories for Macy's recently?

A: Fashion home, domestics, tabletop and housewares. And we are clearly seeing an emergence of the men's business. We're also seeing the young businesses rebound - kids', juniors', young men's. Fine jewelry has been good all along.

Q: What's lagging?

A: Accessories, dresses and shoes. The big question mark is sportswear. We're experiencing significant growth in moderate sportswear, a thrust in our business plan, and bridge sportswear is doing well. Better sportswear has been difficult.

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