Macy's Hires eBay Executive, Revamps Merchandising -- WSJ

By Suzanne Kapner Features Dow Jones Newswires

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (August 22, 2017).

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Macy's Inc. poached a senior eBay Inc. executive and streamlined its top management in an effort to speed up decision-making at the struggling department-store chain.

Hal Lawton, 43 years old, will join Macy's on Sept. 8 as president, the company said. He will report to Macy's Chief Executive Jeff Gennette, who had previously held the president's title. Earlier Monday, eBay announced Mr. Lawton's resignation as senior vice president, North America.

Macy's also restructured its merchandising ranks by consolidating its merchandising, planning and private-label functions into a single unit, resulting in the elimination of about 100 jobs. The move is expected to save about $30 million annually with $5 million of the savings coming in the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year.

"We had a lot of decision makers at the table, and we weren't as fast as we needed to be," Mr. Gennette said of the old structure.

The new slimmed-down group will be run by Jeff Kantor, a 35-year Macy's veteran who is currently head of stores and human resources. As chief merchandising officer, he will succeed Tim Baxter, who is expected to leave the company early next month.

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Since taking the helm in March, Mr. Gennette has vowed to cut through a "sea of sameness" in Macy's offerings and add more exclusive merchandise as the chain tries to keep shoppers from fleeing to fast-fashion retailers and off-price stores like T.J. Maxx.

To that end, he said on Monday that he wants exclusive merchandise to account for 40% of Macy's sales, up from 29% currently. He is also bolstering Macy's analytics team so the retailer can use more data to better inform how it marks down unsold goods.

Key to his vision was to hire an executive with a solid digital and technology background. Mr. Lawton fit the bill, according to Mr. Gennette, because he also has a strong merchandising track record.

At Home Depot Inc., where Mr. Lawton worked before joining eBay in 2015, he served as senior vice president of hardlines and was instrumental in growing Home Depot's digital business to nearly $2 billion from $400 million, Mr. Gennette said.

At eBay, Mr. Lawton immersed himself in the details of the business, at one point becoming a top-rated seller, in an effort to improve the experience for other sellers on the site.

Mr. Lawton has been a key player in eBay's turnaround effort following its 2015 split from PayPal, helping lead initiatives such as guaranteed delivery for millions of items in three days or less, as well as price-matching. The online marketplace is promoting Scott Cutler, now leading its StubHub ticket marketplace division, to the role of senior vice president, Americas.

--Laura Stevens contributed to this article.

Write to Suzanne Kapner at Suzanne.Kapner@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 22, 2017 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)