BELK CLOSING ITS N.Y. OFFICES, MOVING OPERATIONS TO N.C.

NEW YORK — Belk Store Services said Wednesday it will shut its buying office here and move the operation to its home base in Charlotte, N.C.
Over the past several years, other major retailers seeking to cut costs, including the Plano, Tex.-based J.C. Penney and St. Louis-based May Department Stores, have shuttered major buying offices here and transplanted the operations to their headquarters.
Belk’s move is expected to be completed by July 15.
John M. Belk, chairman of Belk Store Services, said the company decided to combine the two offices “to strengthen our customer focus and place Belk Store Services buyers closer to the markets and people served by Belk stores.”
He added that the move “will also result in improved operating efficiency.”
“We expect the time buyers spend in the New York market to remain the same,” said Tim Belk, president of stores. “It’s very important to us, although the definition of market has changed. There are important markets in Seattle and Los Angeles and Atlanta. New York is primary, but there are other important markets.
Belk said that those who previously worked in New York will now be closer to the Belk business and will be able to visit the Belk stores more regularly.
In addition, Belk merchants will use new communication and information technology to further shop fashion markets in New York and around the world, Tim Belk said.
Nancy Alderman, senior vice president, who has been running the New York office, has agreed to move to Charlotte, Tim Belk said.
The office has about 100 employees. “Hopefully as many as possible will be able to transfer to Charlotte, but it’s an individual decision,” Belk said.
He pointed out that having all of the company’s management and associates under one roof will be another plus.
“Clearly, it helps to be in New York, but when we weighed the pros and cons, we decided it would be best for our customers to have our buyers located with the rest of our merchandising,” Tim Belk said. “There will be a lot of travel to New York because market presence is important. We moved the children’s division from New York to Charlotte several years ago, and that’s been successful.”
Belk’s operates a $2 billion retail empire in the South.

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