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Macy’s replaces marketing exec after 13 months


CINCINNATI —Accountability is catching up with Macy’s. Earlier this month, the company announced the departure of Anne MacDonald as its chief marketing officer and the appointment of longtime Federated executive Peter Sachse, who held her job previously, as her replacement. MacDonald, who had served just 13 months on the job, likely got the boot because Macy’s marketing strategies had been failing in more moderate May Co. department stores.

“Macy’s cut promotions in a branding-strategy attempt to be an affordable luxury retailer,” said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail banking and investment firm headquartered in New York City. “What they didn’t realize is that the May Co. customer still likes his coupons and promotions. And in retail, doing what your customers want is the only way to drive sales. MacDonald did not have the background to understand that.”

MacDonald came to Macy’s just over a year ago from Citigroup, where she oversaw Citibank’s “Live Richly” campaign. She was given a $1 billion advertising budget and was sought out by Macy’s to take the retailer to the next level—and seamlessly integrate the retail culture of New York-born Macy’s with the decidedly more moderate Midwest culture of the May Department Store Co. stores.

No doubt, this sort of brand building takes several years, rather than months, to create. But under the watchful eye of Wall Street, which demands steady growth on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis, Macy’s has been under a tremendous amount of pressure to show results. In the first quarter of this year ended May 5, the company reported sales of $5.9 billion, a decrease of 0.2% compared to the same period a year ago. On a same-store basis, first-quarter sales were up 0.6%, which was below management’s expectations of sales in the $6 billion to $6.1 billion range.

“In retail, you don’t have five years to make results happen; these days, it’s more like you have five minutes,” Davidowitz said. “And while MacDonald is a very talented marketer, she did not have a retail background—she didn’t understand the May Co. customer. She didn’t understand the ins and outs of the business—and you have to have that to get somewhere. Otherwise, your shoppers might be going elsewhere.”

For these reasons, Sasche, who before his new appointment served as chairman and ceo of Macy’s Web site, should be better suited to lead Macy’s going forward. Before serving as president of Macy’s corporate marketing and chairman of, Sachse was president and coo of the company’s Bon Marché division (now called Macy’s Northwest). Sachse began his retail career with Macy’s in Kansas City, Mo., in 1980. He was named dmm at Macy’s Bullock’s division in 1987 and in 1992 moved to Bon Marché as senior vp and gmm.

In 1997, Sachse was named evp and gmm at Macy’s East in New York where, in 1999, he was promoted to vice chair and director of stores. Sachse was the company’s first chief marketing officer in June 2003, when he became president of the Macy’s corporate marketing division being created at that time. He was named to the newly created position of chairman of in April 2006.

“By combining the leadership of our marketing and online functions under Peter Sachse, we will be able to more effectively leverage the company’s fast-growing online presence as we continue to build Macy’s as a national brand through a broad range of marketing tools, including Internet advertising,” said Terry Lundgren, Federated’s chairman, president and ceo, in a statement. “Going forward, our ultimate goal remains to grow sales by driving more customers into our stores and to while positioning Macy’s as a destination for fashion and affordable luxury.”

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