In a move that surprised no one, Macy's chairman and chief executive officer said Monday that he will leave the company on Jan. 31 1995, after it consummates its merger with Federated Department Stores in December.
He will receive severance of around $13 million.
Ullman, the highly confident, hard-working manager struggled unsuccessfully to keep Macy's independent in a tough battle with Federated.
Leading Macy's through its reorganization, Ullman took a merchandising-driven company into the computer age by installing new technologies to track and reorder goods. He tackled shortage and operational problems, cut much debt and slashed the staff from 70,000 to 50,000.
He is also credited with implementing the store's buyer-planner system and keeping cash flow at or above plan for the last 17 of 18 months. Sales, however, have continually been below industry standards.
Despite his seemingly boundless energy and cool demeanor, Ullman, along with his team of planners, failed to convince creditors that the chain had more value as a stand-alone company. Federated put the nail in the coffin by outbidding Macy's, valuing the bankrupt company at $4.1 billion, against $3.9 billion by the Macy board.
When the companies announced a merger agreement July 14, Ullman was named deputy chairman of the combined company to assist in the transition. In the weeks that ensued, he tried to negotiate a top-level position with longevity at the combined $13.5 billion chain, sources said.
One source said he wanted to be president, a post held by James Zimmerman, who is considered Allen Questrom's right-hand man. Questrom, Federated's chairman and chief executive officer, offered Ullman other responsibilities, reportedly involving SABRE and credit operations, which Ullman wouldn't accept.
"Questrom wasn't about to turn his back on his number-two guy," said a source close to the situation.
Ullman declined to comment on those reports but said he was "pleased to be considered for the senior leadership."
"Ullman's departure is nothing unpredictable," said a Federated source. "With three men steering the ship, it would have become lopsided."
Ullman's severance is based on a court-approved agreement entitling him to a percentage of Macy's value above $3 billion in the event of the change of control of the company. Federated's bid valued Macy's at $4.1 billion.
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