By  on May 12, 2008

The Bloomingdale's By Mail catalogue will be discontinued early next year, and the chain will accelerate enhancements to its Web site.

Store officials said 17 jobs will be cut. A total of 125 staffers work in Bloomingdale's Direct — comprising Bloomingdale's By Mail and bloomingdales.com. Many in creative, buying and production positions work for both units.

"Bloomingdale's is focused on growing its online business, increasing profitability and reflecting a seamless brand and merchandise selection, whether it be in-store or online," Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive officer, said Friday.

"As more customers turn to the Web for access to Bloomingdale's, their shopping experience must be brand-right," he added, citing plans to enhance the "Web experience," including special events.

Dropping the catalogue also supports sustainability initiatives, Gould said.

Bloomingdale's By Mail generates about 40 catalogues a year that are mailed to customers. The merchandise is selected by Bloomingdale's By Mail buyers, and purchased at home for delivery. It's a different assortment from what is sold at the Bloomingdale's stores.

Separately, Bloomingdale's marketing division produces advertising catalogues, which are geared to drive consumers to the stores. They are not affected by discontinuing the Bloomingdale's By Mail catalogue. About 80 advertising catalogues are produced annually, including the fall book, as well as catalogues for Christmas, Father's Day and other holidays and occasions.

Bloomingdales.com's sales growth "far outpaced" Bloomingdale's By Mail in recent years, the company said. Bloomingdale's does not disclose the volume of its direct-to-consumer businesses. However, parent Macy's Inc. said it expects to exceed $1 billion in sales in 2008 via its direct-to-consumer businesses, including macys.com and bloomingdales.com.

Although Macy's generally is struggling in the tough economy, its direct businesses have benefited from infrastructure improvements, including two 600,000-square-foot fulfillment centers opened in the last year in Portland, Tenn., and Goodyear, Ariz.

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