Macy’s Special Report: Terry Lundgren’s Big Plans

A frenzy of flashing cameras. Throngs of screaming fans. Michael Kors and Anna Wintour.

The hyped-up, electric scene inside Macy’s new women’s footwear floor on Fashion’s Night Out rivaled a blockbuster movie premiere.

It was a big debut — indeed, the unveiling of the world’s largest shoe department, in the world’s largest store.

As crowds gathered in anticipation of Kors’ arrival, Macy’s chief Terry Lundgren excitedly made the rounds, surveying the floor and checking in with associates. The executive gamely climbed atop a circular couch for the perfect photo with the entire department behind him.

“Footwear is an incredibly important product category for Macy’s,” said Lundgren, chairman, CEO and president. “If you can get a woman into a great pair of shoes, chances are you will win her loyalty for other product categories as well.”

In the intense, impassioned battle of the department store shoe floors, this is Macy’s moment. While every major retailer in New York has either unveiled a lavish space or announced plans to open a new floor, Macy’s temple stands out for several reasons. Not only is it the biggest — with 63,000 square feet (including 39,000 square feet of selling space that bests Selfridge’s 35,000 square feet) — but it includes every women’s category across a range of price points. And as part of a broader luxury push, the retailer will bow four shop-in-shops in partnership with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Longchamp.

A decidedly upscale feel is evident throughout the entire department, which also includes a champagne, chocolate and coffee bar adjacent to the designer area. And Macy’s completed the elegant, inviting floor with cutting-edge technology and custom fixtures that put the spotlight on the product. “While being the world’s largest store is very special, we are now embarking on creating the world’s most exciting and successful store,” Lundgren said.

The footwear space — now housed entirely on the second floor — was one of the first major areas of the flagship to undergo a dramatic revamp and will be completed in November. Macy’s is spending $400 million to update the iconic Manhattan store over a period of four years, a move that will have a huge impact in New York and globally.

“The size and scope of the renovation is historic and monumental by any measure,” said Lundgren. Here, the CEO sounds off on the expansive overhaul and the love affair between women and shoes.

On why the footwear renovation was a major priority:

“Footwear is an incredibly important product category for Macy’s. In fact, I have often said, ‘The fastest way to a woman’s heart is through her shoes.'”

On bringing it all together:

“It’s hard to choose favorites among all the exciting aspects of our new space, but our team has done a remarkable job of making a 63,000-sq.-ft. shoe department feel beautiful, exciting, energizing, inviting, comfortable and elegant, all at the same time.”

On what the footwear project says about the bigger picture:
“Our new shoe floor will give customers a glimpse of what’s to come for the remainder of the store over the next three years.”

On the scope of the Macy’s Herald Square revamp:

“I am pretty certain this will be the single largest investment ever made in a department store in the history of [retailing]. We searched the world and learned from the best and most admired flagship department stores to come up with our vision to bring Macy’s Herald Square to a new level of excellence. We hope that will become obvious as the work unfolds.”

On the complexity of the project:
“There is no question that doing a complete renovation of this highly productive store while staying open for business is incredibly complicated. We have had somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 square feet closed off in various locations, in prime shopping areas, since March. However, we have an outstanding team of people from all aspects of our company who are collaborating in a very effective way to plan and execute the many logistics required to get this done. It is a tremendous undertaking, but the end result will be worth every penny and every moment of disruption.”

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