NEW YORK — “I never would have resigned my post as chairman if I was not absolutely confident that Magnin’s had turned the corner toward profitability and has a strong management team to take it forward,” Joseph Cicio said Tuesday.
Cicio, who had come here from his San Francisco office to visit the apparel market, said, “We never could have accomplished this turn if Mike Ullman had not been consistently supportive and given us the tools to do our job. He has always been a believer in the viability of Magnin’s as the only true West Coast-based fashion specialty store.”
Cicio’s resignation is believed to be effective on or about Aug. 1.
Earlier in the day, Myron E. Ullman, chairman and chief executive officer of R.H. Macy & Co., spread the word about I. Magnin’s departing chairman and chief executive officer in an internal video broadcast to I. Magnin associates. The news of Cicio’s impending resignation was reported in WWD on Tuesday.
In a separate development, Ullman went on television a second time Tuesday, but to a wider audience. He told Macy’s East associates that Macy’s is still planning to file a reorganization plan, but noted that the filing has been postponed until after Federated Department Stores meets with the Macy’s board on July 1 to pitch its merger proposal. Originally, Macy’s scheduled the filing for June 30. A new date was not given.
As for Cicio, Ullman told I. Magnin employees that their ceo had done “an outstanding job in turning Magnin’s to profitability.”
Cicio explained that his departure is “strictly motivated by personal reasons, specifically to spend more time with my son, Christopher.”
He noted that he wanted to explore new career opportunities.
“I love this business and I love merchandising, and would love to continue in the field,” Cicio told WWD. He acknowledged, however, that other types of businesses might also prove attractive.
Macy’s did not name a successor, but according to Cicio, the company is working on “an orderly transition.”
“I feel a great sadness about Joe Cicio’s departure,” said Robert Gray, chief executive officer of St. John Knits in Irvine, Calif. “It is a great loss to the store. He is one of the few people capable of running such an operation. He has a feel for merchandising….He worked hard to get the store to the level it is at.”
“I’m blown away,” said Ron Frasch, president of Escada USA, who didn’t hear the news about Cicio until late Tuesday afternoon. “I was extremely impressed by his approach to business and love of customers. I found him to be a refreshing merchant and someone I immensely enjoy.”
Guy Peyrelongue, president and ceo of Cosmair, said, “I am very surprised. He did an outstanding job for I. Magnin. He improved the look of the cosmetics department. He’s one of the great merchants.”
“I’m really upset, and a bit taken aback,” said Byron Lars, who was one of the young designers Cicio helped nurture. “He really had sympathy for the young new designer.”
Cicio is credited with bringing younger, more contemporary and career customers to Magnin’s, without losing the established base of affluent and older shoppers. He added two Giorgio Armani Black Label boutiques, four new Chanel doors, a Wathne accessories boutique and a new merchandising concept called The Edge, including Todd Oldham, Gemma Kahng and Anna Sui. He is responsible for reduced expenses, and cutting losses by 40 percent. Sources said I. Magnin is not yet showing a profit on a seasonal basis, but recently had some profitable months and is expected to be in the black next spring.
“I. Magnin backed up the line with tremendous promotional money,” said bridal and eveningwear designer Vera Wang.
“It’s one thing to buy the line, but quite another to get behind it and sell it,” she continued. Sometimes buying a line is not enough, but I. Magnin makes the financial commitment.”