MYRON ULLMAN NAMED TO PILOT DUTY-FREE CHAIN
Byline: David Moin
NEW YORK — Myron E. Ullman will become chairman and chief executive officer of DFS Group, which operates 150 duty-free and retail shops around the world, Feb. 1, one day after he steps down from the helm of R.H. Macy & Co.
As chairman and ceo of Macy’s since April 1993, Ullman, 47, led the chain’s restructuring after it went bankrupt in January 1992 and fought unsuccessfully to keep it independent of Federated Department Stores. Federated will merge with Macy’s at the end of December, bringing Macy’s out of Chapter 11.
Rumors that Ullman would join DFS have been circulating since Nov. 2, when WWD reported he was a candidate for the duty-free job.
At DFS, he will succeed Adrian Bellamy, who is retiring.
The privately held DFS Shops, located in airports and downtown shopping areas, sell luxury products, including such prestige brands as Herm+s, Chanel, Cartier and Ferragamo. The focus is on leather goods, jewelry, watches, ready-to-wear and fragrances, and the outlets cater to international travelers.
Ullman said DFS is “poised for expansion, particularly in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific arena, at a time when most American retail companies are just beginning to explore international opportunities.”
The post is not as high-profile as Macy’s, but Ullman said DSF appealed to him because it was a “high-growth, high-end business” involving much traveling, particularly through the Far East, which is familiar turf to Ullman.
From 1986 to 1988, he was managing director of The Wharf Group, a diversified holding company in Hong Kong.
Ullman would not comment on his financial package at DFS.
He sounded relieved to be leaving Macy’s and joining a fiscally sound chain with a five-year plan for growth mapped out. He said DFS planned to double its volume over the next five years and has grown more than 20 percent annually for the last 10 to 12 years. The chain did $2.6 billion in sales last year.
“The success of the business is that it’s been able to present new products and exciting assortments that people can’t find at home, but can at a time when they [travel and have money] and look forward to shopping,” Ullman said.
He said he looked forward to getting into merchandising and marketing — “the fun sides of retailing” — that at times were neglected at Macy’s during the bankruptcy proceedings and takeover battle. “I won’t have a bankruptcy court, a takeover and $6 billion of debt to deal with,” Ullman said.
DFS is “a big enough challenge for him,” said Isaac Lagnado, publisher of Tactical Retail Monitor, an industry newsletter. He described DFS as “extraordinarily profitable,” noting, “At their height about three years ago, they did as much as half of a billion dollars in operating profit.”
However, he noted that high occupancy costs of stores in the Far East, widespread diverting of products, free trade and expansion are issues Ullman would have to confront.