The New Bloomies Boss
January 8, 2014-- Home Textiles Today,
There really is something to it," Tony Spring was saying, when asked about the fact that many retail top executives - including himself - started out on the home side of the store.
"You need more of a strategy from the promotional side in home than in other parts of the store. You have to make it more compelling."
Spring's experience must have paid off: On Feb. 1 he becomes chairman and ceo of Bloomingdale's, succeeding Mike Gould, who is retiring after 22 years in the top spot. Spring, who joined the store as a trainee in 1987 but rose through the home store ranks eventually becoming senior vp before moving into overall store management positions, becomes just the third ceo of the modern era for Bloomingdale's, after Gould and the legendary Marvin Traub.
Those are big names to follow, but Spring - who said the day his promotion was announced in October: "I can't fill other people's shoes." - said working with them was a big part of his education. "It feels like I have had an huge opportunity to work for amazing people: Marvin and Mike and also Lester (former Bloomingdale's executive Lester Gribbetz, now president at Lenox).
"Their leadership styles were different but they were all focused on the products and the showmanship and theatrics. For a 22-year old kid to be exposed to them ... well, what it was, was amazing."
Spring spent most of his career with Gould as president and it was Gould who identified him as his logical successor as long as ten years ago, promoting him through a series of jobs leading up to president and coo in 2008.
"Mike at his core, he's a teacher. He's as proud of the educational programs at Bloomingdale's as anything we do. And it's very clear that he's as significant for the people here as he is for his intelligence."
Spring inherits an operation that has evolved greatly under Gould, but one where home remains a key piece of the merchandising mix, unlike many of its competitors. That's not going to change under his watch.
"I like to have home in our store, I feel it gives us a competitive advantage over our competition. The home side makes a difference."
So home will be included in two of the next Bloomingdale's openings, in Stamford, Conn., later this year and Honolulu in 2015. "They will have compelling presentations."
But home will not necessarily be included in every store rollout. "We're going to be market specific in terms of home." He said Bloomingdale's would continue its stand-alone home store in downtown Chicago even though it closed a similar store in Las Vegas last year. No new home-only stores are in the works.
Over the past two years, Bloomingdale's flagship 59th Street store in New York has undergone a major renovation of its home textiles floor, a space generally considered among the most awkward - and profitable - departments anywhere in department store retailing.
"We're very pleased with the progress on that floor," said Spring, "although we'll always continue to tweak it. I think we now have a better balance on the floor, in terms of luxury and opening price points. We did some editing, but we have more options there and more color."
That includes some brands - he mentioned Sferra and Abyss - that are now better represented on all Bloomingdale's textiles floors. The store is also a key player in the relaunch of the Ralph Lauren Home textiles program, which broke this past fall. "We're excited about the newness. We're a better store when we have a good partner like Ralph."
Spring, who has spent his entire working career at Bloomingdale's - unlike Gould who worked at several other department stores - differs as well from his predecessor with his more reserved, almost studious, manner. Addressing store employees on the day of his announcement, he said he felt "humbled, privileged and proud."
His different style should serve him well in distinguishing himself from the former occupants of the ceo office: After all, Bloomingdale's bills itself as a store "like no other."
|In addition to the New York flagship
store, Bloomingdale’s portfolio includes
more than 36 stores — with its fi rst Hawaii
location planned for 2015 — as well as outlet
locations, ecommerce and Middle Eastern
units in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates
that operate under a licensing agreement
with Tayer Insignia.|
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