Macy’s (M) is creating two new jobs at its highest echelons to spur e-commerce and innovation and, it hopes, end a deepening sales decline.
The department store said on Monday that it was naming Macy’s veteran Peter Sachse to the newly created position of chief growth officer, a fancy title that means he will make sure that Macy’s merchants in its main retail business work in concert with the retailer’s new Backstage discount chain, the Bluemercury beauty chain it recently bought and plans to integrate into its stores, and its upcoming locations overseas.
Macy’s also hired Ann Inc executive Justin MacFarlane as its Chief Strategy, Analytics and Innovation Officer, overseeing the use of research and analytics and developing new business venture ideas from the retailer’s big trove of customer data. Both executives will report to Jeff Gennette, president of Macy’s and presumptive CEO-in-waiting.
The changes come in the wake of a bad spell for Macy’s. Though the retailer came out of the recession in better shape than rivals like J.C. Penney (JCP) and Kohl’s (KSS), Macy’s has seen its business drop off for three quarters in a row. And during the key holiday season, comparable sales fell 5%, suggesting an accelerating deterioration. Macy’s is set to close 36 stores and cut 4,000 jobs.
To keep growing in a tough environment for apparel-focused department stores, Macy’s has launched a chain of discount stores aimed squarely at competing with TJX Cos’ (TAX) T.J. Maxx. It has plans to enhance its beauty offering with the help of its acquisition last year of the trendy Bluemercury stores. And the company is set to open its first store outside the U.S. in 2018 with a location in the United Arab Emirates.
“Each role is critical to our ability to position the company’s brands for success in a consumer marketplace that continues to evolve in profound new directions,” said CEO Terry Lundgren in a statement.
Macy’s ought to be careful: the last time it shook up its upper ranks, it led to distractions that the company blamed in part for its poor results in the first quarter of the fiscal year that just ended.