NEW YORK — Macy’s Inc. has given Jeffrey Gennette a bigger playing field.
The U.S.’ largest department store retailer on Monday promoted Gennette to president of the corporation, giving him the additional responsibility of overseeing its rapidly growing private label brands. Gennette, who has been seen as a rising star in the retail world, has served for the past five years as Macy’s chief merchandising officer.
He continues to report to Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and chief executive officer of the $28 billion Macy’s Inc. Lundgren is turning over the title of president to Gennette.
“It’s a very big deal,” Lundgren told WWD on Monday. “Jeff has had all of merchandising, all of marketing, all of macys.com,” reporting to him. “Now he will have the Macy’s Merchandising Group [MMG] reporting to him as well. It’s a big job, the second largest job in the company after me.”
MMG is the corporation’s private brands organization.
Asked if Gennette’s promotion reflected succession planning, the 62-year-old Lundgren replied: “This is giving an opportunity to one of the most creative and talented individuals in the retailing industry. That’s all we are stating and signaling.”
Lundgren suggested that he is not about to retire from Macy’s anytime soon. “I am having way too much fun,” he said.
The ceo called Gennette “an outstanding merchant, insightful strategist and strong leader,” adding, “As our president, with the additional responsibility for Macy’s private brands, Gennette will have a total view of Macy’s merchandise assortment and marketing strategy — both in stores and online — consistent with our omnichannel vision. Our exclusive private brands, which have provided a powerful competitive advantage for Macy’s, will continue to play a vitally important role.”
For several seasons, Macy’s private brand sales have been outpacing the overall business, and Gennette acknowledged that his biggest challenge with that part of his job is “to keep the momentum going. We have been winning for five years running.” Some key private brands include INC, Charter Club, Hotel Collection, Style & Co., Alfani and Bar III.
While Gennette has an omni perspective on the business, the rest of the merchant team remains channel specific. Asked if he would consider reorganizing responsibilities so merchants work across channels, as some retailers have begun to do, Gennette replied, “We are always looking at the future. Right now, we see management and buying-line talent in both channels.”
“We think the reason we have grown to be the 10th largest Internet company in America is because we have very talented people dedicated to the online business. We never want to make it store number 801,” Lundgren said, referring to Macy’s 800 stores. Lundgren said Macy’s no longer breaks out online sales from store sales because the channels support each other and each could play a part in a particular transaction. “If somebody walks into the store and spends 20 minutes with a sales associate and then buys online, is that an online sale or a store sale? If someone does all their research online and buys [the product] in the store, should it be recorded as a store sale or an online sale? It’s completely mixed up and merged, but we do know the online is getting bigger and bigger as a percent to the total,” he said.
While some see Gennette’s appointment as elevating his chances to one day run Macy’s, Lundgren was clear not to couch Gennette or other key executives as second-in-command. Other top officials include Peter Sachse, chief stores officer, and Karen Hoguet, chief financial officer.
Macy’s Inc. has recently seen some high-level departures, including Michael Gould, who in February stepped down as chairman and ceo of Bloomingdale’s. He was succeeded by Tony Spring, who has already been reshaping the team at Bloomingdale’s and identifying new areas for business that the upscale department store could tap. Spring reports to Lundgren.
Gennette, 52, has been Macy’s chief merchandising officer since 2009. Previously, before Macy’s centralized its store divisions, he served as chairman and ceo of Macy’s West for about a year, and earlier was chairman and ceo of Macy’s Northwest in Seattle from December 2005 to February 2008. Before that, Gennette was executive vice president and director of stores for Macy’s Central in Atlanta and senior vice president and gmm at Macy’s West. He joined Macy’s West in 1983 as an executive trainee and held various merchant and store management positions in that division. He also once worked as a store manager for FAO Schwarz and director of stores for Broadway Stores.
“Macy’s has traditionally had merchants at the helm,” said retail analyst Walter Loeb. “The company differentiates through its merchandising creativity. I am very positive about this appointment. The company will continue as a merchandising organization which is the most important to the customer.”
Lundgren has been president of Macy’s Inc. since May 1997, ceo since February 2003 and chairman since January 2004. Most retailers are structured with a chairman and ceo, and another individual serving as president.
“I actually have had four titles,” Lundgren said. “Chairman, president, ceo and ‘chief customer officer.’ My sign on the door of my office says chief customer officer. My stationery I send notes out on says that too. That’s my most important title.”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews