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Macy's West eyes more home store expansion

SAN FRANCISCO -With sales soaring at more than 30 percent over plan at its new home store in South Coast Plaza, Macy's West is aggressively looking for more free-standing home store sites.

The store, which opened in September, brought together new approaches in the presentation of home furnishings as opposed to the more structured departmental approach. "The integration of furniture with home textiles and tabletop in a lifestyle approach rather than rows and rows of furniture and other defined home products" has been a singular success with customers, said Bob Mettler, president of the fashion driven Federated Department Stores division.

"We're trying to get a share of mind of the consumer as well as share of market," Mettler explained. "We see the importance of environmental presentation and focused assortments that make it easier to shop. We're doing more coordination-a whole lot more-and more lifestyle selling."

Basically, he said, "it is as much a matter of branding the store as branding the products. It's all part of building our relationship with customers. We're doing more lifestyle selling and lifestyle integration."

In South Coast Plaza, the store is defined by lifestyles-bedroom, kitchen and entertaining, and bath, with merchandise from different departments integrated into the whole. In the bedroom area, for example, beds were dressed with bed linens and accompanied by decorative accessories appropriate to the lifestyle. In tabletop, dining tables and chairs supported the table linens and tabletop settings and accessories.

And while the success at the Southern California unit as well as the new building that houses the flagship home furnishings business here are definitely successful, Mettler observed that "while we like the home store concept, there are more opportunities for free-standing furniture/floor coverings units than full-line home stores" from a physical plant perspective.

Macy's West also operates full-line home stores in Las Vegas and Mission Valley, CA. The challenge, he noted, is to find the appropriate real estate for full-line home stores. "We are looking at a number of existing sites of retailers that have vacated locations, as well as considering building from the ground up."

Looking over the entire terrain of merchandise, Mettler noted that all product areas performed equally as well in South Coast Plaza.

Overall, Mettler said, "home textiles business is still strong, especially in luxury segments. Calvin is terrific, and our own brands are very, very strong; and Waterford is fabulous."

To support this approach, Macy's West "has an unusually high proportion of selling specialists who are somehow rewarded in a number of ways for specific product categories," he said. And in the home stores, sight lines are clear from one area to another so that customers working in the tabletop area with a sales person can be easily joined by one from furniture. "It's educated solution selling," he said.

At the same time, the division has launched a marketing initiative that "will enable us to highlight design or lifestyle," he said.

To this end, the division's holiday circular integrates gift, accessories, home textiles and furniture and features a special table setting tip in showing several tables dressed for the holidays.

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