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Reinventing The Home Store

The news last week about the change in stewardship at Federated's Macy's Home Store division, itself a newcomer on the retailing scene, has created a great deal of speculation about the future of this concept — as a major change in a new business would typically do.

Obviously, senior corporate management is committed to this concept. And for the long term it seems the way to go. But getting there so far has been anything but fun.

The home marketplace — and the home textiles segment in particular — has been talking privately about some of the moves the corporate group has taken in the slightly more than a year since its formation.

The overall challenge was enormous — infinitely more so in some ways than the one facing Allen Questrom at JCPenney in 2000, though some could say that Penney's challenge was one of survival. But that company at least had congruency among its various pieces in terms of customer base, type of merchandise, systems, and advertising. And while there were great voids in these segments, they at least were working off the same systems.

Looking at Macy's Home Store, after a year there still is the critical issue of merchandise congruency. How to equate a merchandise assortment for the much more upscale Macy's West with the more mainstream former Goldsmith's/Lazarus/Rich's division still is a challenge.

Advertising issues apparently have been even more challenging than merchandise. The Home Store concept requires country-wide approaches for all marketing and advertising — a situation that severely impacts the major contribution that the home store gives to the five individual Macy's divisions that form the Home Store.

Each division has its local events tied into specific area activities, as well as activities that are factored into a month-by-month, store-wide performance and even special promotions tied to regional events.

This apparently has been one of the major sticking points in the early days of the program, as well as the planned quarterly turnover of fashion bedding to simulate the way apparel fashions are merchandised.

These, plus the need to improve home business nationally, will continue to be the group's prime challenges.

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