When Michael Gould joined Bloomingdale’s in November 1991, it was clear from the get-go that the pace of change would accelerate. He had already made his mark, catapulting Giorgio Beverly Hills into one of the beauty industry’s hottest brands, and turning the Robinsons department store chain in California into a market leader.
Aggressive, competitive, well-read and deeply philanthropic, Gould has kept Bloomingdale’s on a steady path of change, advancing revenues and profits and the brand image, developing new formats, working with a team that’s largely stuck with him for the long haul, and convincing skeptics that the 140-year-old department store was not a dinosaur. His office door is always open. He walks the selling floors at a fast clip, and has an unusual personal style that’s equally forceful and compassionate.
Here, a short list of the peak moments and developments during the Gould era at Bloomingdale’s.
1991 to the present: Bloomingdale’s undergoes its greatest expansion from 13 to 37 full-line stores. Revenues grow from $1.2 billion to $2.8 billion, and the operating profit rate more than doubles.1996: The retailer invades California, familiar territory for Gould, opening four stores in two weeks, and a fifth a few months later. The buildup continues, with nine stores operating in California and a 10th set for 2013. 2000 to the present: Gould pushes the food agenda, bringing in better culinary options in recent years such as David Burke, and Flip, a hamburger joint, at the flagship, which also operates Forty Carrots, Le Train Blue and B Cafe. Charlie Palmer operates in Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza store in Costa Mesa, Calif., and there’s Daikanyama, a Japanese restaurant, in the Chestnut Hill, Mass., unit. Most recently, Magnolia Bakery opens in the 59th Street and Dubai stores. 2004: Bloomingdale’s SoHo launches, in a daring move testing the department store’s ability to create a more specialized store and merchandise in a much smaller space, yet maintain the Bloomingdale’s aura. It becomes a prototype for future expansion.
2004: Gould introduces the “b-Style” dress code applying to central executives, sales, support and management teams in stores. Men wear black suits with white or light blue shirts and a tie. Women wear black dresses, or black suits with solid black, white, light blue or cream tops. The code creates controversy, but gives Bloomingdale’s a classic, professional image and makes it easier for shoppers to find help. 2009: As part of the ongoing renovations at the 59th Street flagship, the company remakes the B-way for beauty with a high-tech, theatrical glam that strengthens what has long been a hallmark business at the store.
2009: Bloomingdales.com goes transactional, in a major step propelling Bloomingdale’s into an omni-channel retail business.
2010: The retailer begins to roll out outlets, seeking to maintain the allure of the deep discount treasure hunt, with a lot of merchandise but a cleaner format for less digging through the racks.
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