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Macy’s taps Ebay exec with strong digital background

US department store retailer Macy’s has named Hal Lawton, formerly senior vice president of Ebay North America, as president.

Effective September 8, Lawton will be responsible for all aspects of the Macy’s brand, including merchandising, marketing, stores, operations, technology, and consumer insights and analytics, and will report to Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette.

Lawton brings strong retail and digital expertise from his time at Ebay and Home Depot, where he was responsible for jump-starting the hardware store’s e-commerce site and building it into a nearly $2 billion business.

After reporting a fall in sales and earnings per share last quarter, though the fall wasn’t as bad as analysts were estimating, Macy’s is banking on Lawton’s tech background and track record of successfully driving change to turn the business around.

“This is a key step as we look to further transform the business and work through the volatility of today’s retail landscape,” said Gennette in a statement.

“Macy’s already has one of the strongest omnichannel businesses in the industry, and with Hal on the team, we will accelerate the integration of digital both online and in our stores to deliver the world-class experience our customers demand.”

In addition to Lawton’s hiring, Macy’s has also announced the creation of a single simplified merchandising organisation and an enhanced focus on the company’s data analytics capabilities.

The restructuring will consolidate three functions – merchandising, planning and private brands – into a single function organised around five ‘families-of-business’ (ready-to-wear, center core, beauty, men’s and kid’s, and home).

The restructure will be supported by strengthened customer insights and data analytics, including new inventory replenishment and pricing capabilities.

While the primary objective is growth, Macy’s anticipates it will save approximately US$30 million on an annual basis, some of which may be used for reinvestment in the business. It expects one-time costs of approximately $20-25 million to be booked primarily in the third quarter of 2017 and a headcount reduction of approximately 100.

Lawton said he is excited to play a part in transforming the iconic retailer for the future of retail.

“At a time when there is both dramatic change and great potential in retail, I’m excited to be part of the team that will shape the future of the Macy’s brand and, along with it, consumer expectations of what a great omnichannel experience can be,” he said.

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