FEDERATED DENIES BLOOMINGDALE'S IS MOVING WEST 'AT THIS TIME'

Byline: Dianne M. Pogoda

NEW YORK--Reports resurfaced Friday that Bloomingdale's might be headed west, but its parent, Federated Department Stores Inc., denied them.
An article in Friday's San Francisco Examiner said Bloomingdale's would reportedly be moving into I. Magnin's landmark Union Square flagship after Christmas. The article also said Magnin, a unit of R.H. Macy & Co., would be closing eight units, leaving the flagship, San Diego, Beverly Hills and Phoenix stores. San Diego and Phoenix could also be converted to Bloomingdale's, the story said.
Federated and Macy's, which are merging by the end of the year, said the reports were "incorrect and based on pure speculation."
In a statement issued Friday, the companies said, "As noted in the disclosure statement, the financials included are based on the presumption that the company will initially continue to operate I. Magnin. The combined company will consider and evaluate all possible alternatives. No final decision has been made at this time."
A Macy's spokesman added that Federated has not had enough time to evaluate the situation. He said a decision was probably weeks away.
Speculation that the 118-year-old Magnin would become a memory has been circulating for years. The division has not been profitable in at least five years. Several stories have run in these columns that the Magnin flagship at San Francisco's Union Square and the unit in Beverly Hills would likely be considered for conversion into branches of Bloomingdale's.
Rumors have intensified as completion of the merger has drawn closer, but as recently as Sept. 22, Allen I. Questrom, chairman and chief executive officer of Federated, said no decisions on any store closing had been made.
Scott Bowman, who was named chairman and ceo of Magnin in July, was flying to Italy Friday to see the European collections, which kicked off over the weekend, and could not be reached.
Since his appointment, Bowman has said that Magnin had "aggressive plans" to regain its cachet and return to profitability. He said the retailer is stronger than it has been in years and is poised for a solid fall and spring.
Magnin had a volume of about $290 million last year.
Federated has been exploring taking Bloomingdale's west for a number of years. Bloomingdale's currently has 16 units.

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