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The New York Times has a piece about Tony Spring, most recently the CEO of Bloomingdale's and the incoming CEO of its sister company, Macy's, and all the challenges he faces.  While Spring was successful at Bloomingdale's, "bringing in hundreds of brands and emphasizing more appealing displays of merchandise and a creative marketing strategy," the challenge at Macy's is seen as being significantly greater:

"Macy’s has a broader customer base than Bloomingdale’s and skews less to luxury goods. Macy’s roughly 560 stores are spread from its crown jewel location in Manhattan’s Herald Square to dying malls scattered across America’s smaller towns; Bloomingdale’s has about 60 locations. Half of Macy’s customers have a household income of $75,000 or less, while Bloomingdale’s, whose big brown bags had long been a status symbol, draws shoppers with higher incomes.

"In the past decade, there has been considerable consolidation in the department store sector with the fall of Sears, Barneys and Lord & Taylor. Of the remaining chains, Macy’s broad store base poses a unique challenge, retail and real estate analysts say. Macy’s is more dependent on malls and has had less success than Kohl’s and Nordstrom in defining what sets it apart, said David Silverman, retail analyst at Fitch Ratings. Macy’s also has increasing competition from discount chains like T.J. Maxx and Burlington."

At the same time, Macy's has been fighting off an acquisition move by an outside investor group that has said it may take the offer to shareholders;  Macy's has questioned whether the investors have sufficient funds to run the company, and suggested that it could be a real estate play rather than a retail-driven deal.

"The most notorious retail deal gone wrong may be Sears, which the billionaire Eddie Lampert bought and merged with Kmart, betting in part on the prime value of the latter’s real estate," the Times writes.  "The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2018, after its debt payments left it short of cash and unable to invest in its stores.

"Retailers have seen lessons in the Sears debacle, along with the bankruptcies at J.C. Penney and Toys R Us after ownership shake-ups. The founding family of Nordstrom walked away from an attempt by the private equity firm Leonard Green to buy the retailer in 2018. And Kohl’s rebuffed two takeover bids in 2022."

KC's View:

It is hard for me to imagine a world in which Macy's, as it currently is constituted, has a long-term future.  I just don't think it is a differentiated enough format to survive.  All the vitality seems to be at the high end and low end of the market, but Macy's is stuck in the mucky middle.