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My Macy's to Help Home Locally

Macy's poorly performing home textiles category is in for an infusion of new life under the department store chain's new "My Macy's" localized initiative, which envisions big plans for a new fashion approach come spring.

Last week, Macy's Inc. evp and cfo Karen Hoguet said that the 850-unit retailer's regional planning managers assigned under My Macy's have just reviewed the private brand offerings for spring.

"I am told they provided very specific data and input on color palettes and fashion desires [for home textiles] in different parts of the country, and the merchants believe that this input will clearly help drive the business in the spring season," she said during Macy's second-quarter earnings call.

My Macy's launched late this past spring and has thus far focused on infrastructure and getting new posts settled and trained. Hoguet said that while the retailer can boast "some quick wins in the regions," it is still "too early for the changes to be big enough to move the needle. But we are very excited about the structure and our increased focus on trying to meet local needs and desires."

To asssist the effort, Macy's recently rolled out a new tool to aid communications among the four regions and corporate, and so far each of the regions has inputted more than 1,700 requests for store-related improvements. More than half of them relate to future on-orders, given strong sell-throughs in a particular category, department or items. About a third of the requests relate to changes in assortments, such as adding a vendor or category, adjusting the style mix or modifying replenishment parameters.

Overall, Hoguet said most of the requests are "reasonable" and only very few are being declined. And while no single request is admittedly "big enough by itself to move the needle, commutatively they will start to begin to matter."

"We do expect to begin seeing improved trends in the My Macy's districts this fall, which represent about 20% of total Macy's Inc. sales," she continued. "But the impact really will not be significant until next year."

On the subject of Macy's exclusive Martha Stewart Collection, which was not touched upon during the prepared statements, Hoguet noted the Martha Stewart Collection "continues to perform very well.

"We've obviously learned a lot in the first year and have tweaked programs, as you would expect us to do in any line, and continue to feel very good about performance of that as well," Hoguet said.

Looking ahead, Macy's is expecting a weaker third quarter than fourth quarter.

"As we look at the fourth quarter, we believe it plays to our strengths as a terrific gift store and we feel very good about our merchandising and marketing strategies for that time period," she continued.

The retailer is "being very aggressive and creative in marketing to our customer this fall" and is gearing up for its upcoming 150th birthday celebration, which falls on Oct. 28 and will be hailed throughout the third quarter with special activities, Hoguet said.

For the holiday selling period, Macy's has planned a special campaign, but Hoguet said it was too early to provide details.

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