Retailing's small small world
By Carole Sloan, founding editor-in-chief -- Home Textiles Today, 6/21/2004 12:00:00 AM
The big question in the past weeks from retailing gurus is "how will Marshall Field's look under the heavy 'dynamic' of May Company?" — otherwise known as "May-O Naissing" of any retailer the company has been involved with as an acquisition.
Many folks don't recall the sequence of events but there was a power family of retailers called Dayton in Minneapolis that had a family business — Dayton's Department Stores.
The Dayton folks were a significant part of the community involving themselves in myriad activities from the museum to education to extensive charitable activities.
The Dayton family then bought up another family department store business in Detroit called J.L. Hudson. And Hudson's similarly was the dominant retailing force in its communities.
But the Dayton folks were more than just local guys in the department store world. They tried other things like the discounter Target; one of the first big box home stores called Lechmere; and Mervyn's, one of the first big box mainstream apparel and home retailers. That first non-department store endeavor is now the second largest discounter in the country; the second was sold to Montgomery Ward and is defunct; and Mervyn's fate is still to be decided.
As unbelievable as it may seem, Target's CEO — Bob Ulrich — once was a furniture buyer at the Dayton's Department Store division and moved up through the ranks.
Moving along, the Dayton's folks decided to meld the two department store nameplates into the Dayton-Hudson Corp. with Target making major contributions to the company.
In 1992, BATUS, the American subsidiary of British-American Corp., bought Marshall Field's, another member of the celebrated retailing family, and added it to its Saks Fifth Avenue portfolio. In 1998 Dayton-Hudson Corp. acquired Marshall Field's, as BATUS divested itself of all of its retailing activities. In 2000, Dayton-Hudson changed its name to Target Corp., reflecting the dominance of its discount divisions.
Retailing history does take some interesting twists and turns. Phil Miller and Tina Johnson, both recent CEOs at Saks Fifth Avenue were CEO and general merchandising manager of Field's under BATUS.
And all along the way, customer service, merchandising creativity and innovation and being ahead of the curve were the operating mantras. How will this work with the rigid May matrix?
We would love your feedback!