Bloomingdale’s brings on Olivier Bron as next CEO

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Macy’s, the venerable American retailer, announced on Tuesday the appointment of international retail executive Olivier Bron as the next Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of its esteemed upscale department store, Bloomingdale’s.

Olivier Bron, a French national, brings with him a wealth of global retail experience, having most recently served as the CEO of Central and Robinson department stores in Thailand. His extensive international career also includes a tenure as Chief Operating Officer and Director of Strategy at Galeries Lafayette, a prestigious French retail group in Paris. Furthermore, he boasts over a decade of experience as a retail consultant at Bain & Company.

Bron’s appointment marks a departure from tradition for Macy’s, as it is the first time since 1991 that an external executive has been brought in to lead Bloomingdale’s. Tony Spring, a 36-year veteran of Bloomingdale’s, had been CEO-elect of Macy’s parent company since March and will succeed the retiring Jeff Gennette in February.

The decision to enlist an executive from a different company and nationality could signal Macy’s grander global ambitions for Bloomingdale’s. While the brand maintains a limited international presence with locations in Dubai and Kuwait, its flagship store in Manhattan’s Midtown district enjoys popularity among tourists from around the world, symbolised by the array of flags adorning its exterior.

Macy’s has categorised Bloomingdale’s as “a cornerstone” of its strategic plans, particularly in expanding its luxury business segment.

In an official statement, Tony Spring lauded Olivier Bron as “an authentic and charismatic leader” who comprehends the essence of Bloomingdale’s brand and is poised to steer the company towards a prosperous future. Spring also highlighted Bron’s extensive international retail background and deep knowledge of the luxury market, deeming them invaluable as they explore new growth opportunities.

Bron, expressing his admiration for the Bloomingdale’s brand, expressed his intent to further enhance it by introducing “new store formats and continued digital expansion.”

Macy’s has faced challenges in recent times, with Bloomingdale’s serving as a reliable source of growth amid the backdrop of several legacy department store closures. Bloomingdale’s distinct emphasis on designer labels and higher-priced merchandise caters to a more affluent clientele.

However, the most recent quarter saw even Bloomingdale’s contending with sales declines, a trend attributed to increasing budgetary constraints and a shift towards experiential spending. Comparable sales for the quarter dipped 2.6% on an owned-plus-licensed basis, driven by reduced purchases of handbags, men’s apparel, and dresses.

Notably, alongside its flagship stores, Macy’s includes the beauty chain Bluemercury, which posted sales gains in its most recent quarter. While Bloomingdale’s remains a vital part of Macy’s business, the parent company does not break down revenue by individual store brands.

As of late July, Bloomingdale’s had 4 million active customers over the trailing 12-month period, compared to 41.5 million at Macy’s and approximately 736,000 at Bluemercury. Olivier Bron’s appointment underscores Macy’s commitment to navigating the evolving retail landscape with an international perspective and a focus on upscale luxury.