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Saks Names Bill Herbst to Merchandising Post

Bill Herbst, the top visual and store design executive at Macy’s East, will become vice president of visual merchandising of Saks Fifth Avenue.

NEW YORK — In another addition to the new executive squad at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bill Herbst, the top visual and store design executive at Macy’s East, will become vice president of visual merchandising in early August.

Herbst will play a key role in helping to reshape the image of Saks and, in particular, shape the look of the Fifth Avenue flagship and branch locations, which are expected to undergo dramatic renovations over the next several years.

Herbst will report to Terron Schaefer, senior vice president of marketing. Schaefer is expected to fill other positions that will report to him, in the visual, advertising and public relations areas.

Starting in December 2003, Saks hired Fred Wilson as chairman and ceo, Andrew Jennings became president and chief merchandising officer and Ron Frasch became the number two merchant. Subsequently, Schaefer joined the store.

Herbst started his career at Bloomingdale’s in the Seventies, spent about 15 years at Macy’s and left in the late Nineties to work at a small specialty chain called Cherry & Webb, which no longer operates. He returned to Macy’s in 2001. Macy’s has not yet announced a successor.

“Bill is a hard worker, took a modern approach to Macy’s, and knows art, architecture, style, and photography. He was able to implement changes at Macy’s within a reasonable budget,” said a Macy’s supplier.

At Macy’s East, Herbst held the title of executive vice president of visual merchandising and store design, was a member of the executive committee and reported to Ron Klein, chairman and ceo. He was responsible for the visual merchandising and design projects in all 82 Macy’s East stores, and worked with the Federated Department Stores Inc. design team, vendors and visual suppliers on new stores, renovations and in-store shops. He was also responsible for window displays.

Among his accomplishments were modernizing Herald Square’s second floor for ready-to-wear, cleaning up several floors to make them more spacious and getting the store to be more merchandise-focused and younger in appeal. He is said to have a very clean aesthetic and to have imparted a greater focus on merchandising and display at Macy’s. He also brought more fashion to the windows.

This story first appeared in the July 30, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Asked about making the move to Saks, Herbst said, “It’s sad to leave Macy’s. But something different and exciting is happening at Saks. There is a great vision there and the management team there is great. I love to be part of something new.

“There are not many opportunities in retailing,” Herbst added. “The industry is condensing, condensing, condensing.”

Herbst moves into a slot last held by Sal Lenzo, who left Saks in August 2003.