Localizing called key to future at Macy's

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 5, 2007 - 11:42 AM

Macy's chief says mixing local traditions with a national name will lead to a revolution in the department store industry.

Despite a year of fits and starts, Macy's North CEO Frank Guzzetta said Tuesday he sees a hopeful future, as the nation's largest department store chain embarks on "seismic and strategic change."

The secret, Guzzetta said, will be for Macy's to emphasize the national brand yet focus on the needs of the local community -- from hiring store staff that reflects the surrounding neighborhoods to ensuring that what's on the racks satisfies the desires of local customers.

Despite flagging sales at some stores, he said he didn't plan on closing any, including the store in downtown St. Paul.

"We are creating the perfect blend of the national and local, which no competitor can match," said Guzzetta, addressing about 225 people during a monthly lecture series sponsored by the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.

Meeting with reporters after the address, Guzzetta pointed to the Macy's at the Mall of America as an example of "localizing stores."

That store -- which had been the only Macy's in the Twin Cities until the purchase of Marshall Field's last September -- previously had been managed in California. Under the 64-store Macy's North management team, sales at the Macy's Mall of America increased by double digits in the past year, he said.

Guzzetta said he would welcome growth into Chaska and other areas of growth in the Twin Cities.

Macy's erred in the early days by "putting too much energy into just managing the name change," Guzzetta told the crowd at the McNamara Alumni Center.

"We didn't focus on developing new customers and explaining what Macy's is all about," he said.

That's starting to change, he said. Macy's North has launched M magazine to replace some of the mailings to credit-card holders. The retailer also plans to simplify its pricing, offer better promotions, spiff up stores through better housekeeping and create more "sizzle," something he said the store's competitors had done a better job of this past year.

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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