Frank Doroff, Bloomingdale’s vice chairman, executive vice president and general merchandise manager and one of the nation’s leading merchants, is retiring from the department store on Feb. 8.
Doroff has been overseeing the retailer’s ready-to-wear, bloomingdales.com and concession businesses, which combined represent roughly more than one-third of the department store’s estimated $3 billion in annual volume.
“I’m going to be 70 in February. I figured this was a good time for me,” Doroff told WWD in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “I loved every minute of the job and especially all of the people at Bloomingdale’s.”
“This is a bittersweet moment,” said Tony Spring, Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Frank has left an indelible mark on our organization, its people and the business.”
Doroff will be succeeded by Denise Magid, who on Jan. 2 moves into the position of executive vice president and general merchandise manager for ready-to-wear, bloomingdales.com and concessions.
Magid joins Bloomingdale’s from DVMagid Consulting, a consulting company she founded in 2016. Earlier, she was chief merchant at Intermix, and before that, she worked at Saks Fifth Avenue, where she rose to senior vice president and general merchandise manager. She started her career in the Lord & Taylor executive training program and eventually became a buyer for dresses, one of L&T’s best categories.
Spring said he selected Magid as Doroff’s successor because of her “upscale” experience in department and specialty stores and in fashion. “She’s got good relationships in the market. She’s an enthusiastic leader. I have a terrific team here at Bloomingdale’s, but I was open to considering the best candidates and who was best qualified to take Bloomingdale’s to the next level,” Spring said. “Nobody can really replace Frank, but Denise fills the boxes — fashion sensibility, Internet savvy, experience. It’s a good combination. She will help us to continue to build upon what Frank has accomplished and make us think differently, too.”
Spring said Doroff and Magid will work together for five weeks, in a transition period.
Doroff has been with Bloomingdale’s in a variety of senior-level capacities since August 1991. He’s been the architect of certain merchandise categories considered signature businesses at the store and competitive edges, pioneering the contemporary fashion category, initially with such labels as Theory, Joie and Juicy Couture in the mid-Nineties. Doroff saw the high demand for women’s contemporary sportswear and fueled revenue growth in the category.
Doroff aggressively built up Bloomingdale’s premium denim business, and has been an advocate for concession shops, in particular with European contemporary labels such as Sandro, Maje and All Saints. His impact extended to the retailer’s dot-com business, which he grew over the past 10 years.
On the organizational side of the business, Doroff was instrumental in the integration of the upscale department store’s planning and buying organizations into a unified structure across the brick and mortar and online channels.
Spring credited Doroff’s success and his popularity in vendor and retail circles to “an affable yet requiring nature. He expects a lot from his people and his partners in the market, but he does so in an authentic, kind-hearted manner,” said Spring. “He’s been a nimble, agile player, strategic, and has taken on a myriad of responsibilities. He’s leaving on an incredible high and feeling very proud of his accomplishments.”
His departure comes at a tipping point for the retailer and growth. A division of Macy’s Inc., Bloomingdale’s is opening two stores next year, in Stamford, Conn., and Valley Fair, Calif. The division is in the finishing stages of a near total renovation of the 59th Street flagship, and in 2020, roughly 1,000 executives and office workers are being relocated to a new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. Vis-à-vis several of its competitors, Bloomingdale’s and its sister Macy’s division seem on steadier footing.
Doroff, a graduate of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, started his retail career in 1972 in the Macy’s training program. “I loved it from the first day I walked in.”
He worked in the Macy’s buying office and rose through the ranks in women’s apparel. His father, Ben Doroff, who was in charge of sales at the former Wanamaker’s department store, was influential in advising him on where to focus his career. “He said I should go into the women’s business. That it was the place where you could be noticed,” as opposed to other areas in the department store with lower profiles.
“It’s fun, stimulating and every day is a new day,” said Doroff, about being in retail.
At Macy’s, he advanced to senior vice president and general merchandise manager, shifted to the former Bullock’s chain in California as executive vice president of women’s apparel and accessories. He rose to president of Bullock’s, became chairman of the Federated and Allied Merchandising Services, and later, chairman and ceo of the former Bonwit Teller chain for a brief period before joining Bloomingdale’s. He was recruited to the store by Michael Gould, the former chairman and ceo, and the two started working on 59th Street the same time. Doroff serves on the board of trustees at Phoenix House, Cancer Care and the American Jewish Committee.
Among his most memorable moments at Bloomingdale’s was decades ago when Andrew Rosen, the founder of Theory, sold the retailer a pair of Theory pants, which was pretty much all that Rosen had to offer at the time. “We put the pants on two hooks on the second floor behind Polo jeans. Now it’s become one of our largest businesses,” Doroff recalled.
Another memorable moment was when a Bloomingdale’s buyer returned from a trip to Japan where she happened to visit a store called Aqua. “She loved the name so we started an Aqua private brand business with one leather jacket,” Doroff said. Aqua has also blossomed into one of the store’s most important businesses. “It presents the trends of the season at affordable prices,” Doroff said.
He acknowledged that the ready-to-wear business is always challenging. However, “It’s amazing to me that if someone has a new idea with the right product, the customer always finds it. People have an appetite for this.”
Commenting on the current state of the Bloomingdale’s business, Doroff said, “The Internet is our fastest-growing business, but our overall brick-and-mortar business is healthy.” This year, he said, the outerwear business has been “outstanding” while advanced contemporary, newer upscale denim resources, activewear and cashmere have also been strong.
He said he didn’t have any specific plans for the future. Doroff has two daughters and two grandchildren and his wife Stephanie is a former Bloomingdale’s executive.
At the end of the interview in Spring’s office on the seventh floor of the flagship, Doroff said he had a message for the vendor community. “Bloomingdale’s is in a great place right now. If you are already a partner, I thank you for your great partnership — all of you. If you are not a partner, now is a good time to become one.”