The next generation of millenials

Terry J. Lundgren didn’t gloss over the reality facing most retailers, choosing to focus on innovation in his keynote address this morning at the Global Retailing Conference.

“If you’re in the fashion/retail business, more than likely it’s been a challenging period for us and for you and that’s OK. We’re used to coming up against these challenges and addressing them,” the Macy’s Inc. chief executive officer and chairman said.

The talk was the kickoff keynote for the University of Arizona’s Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing’s annual conference, with a speaker roster over the next two days that also includes Nike Inc. president of direct-to-consumer Christiana Shi, Lucky Brand ceo Carlos Alberini and Blanco ceo Stephen Craig.

Left off the talking points for Lundgren’s speech though are the pressures facing the retailer from activist investors that have been pushing the company to re-evaluate its real estate holdings and reverse a sales slump. Instead, Lundgren, for his part, focused his talk on three Macy’s programs he said speaks to its innovation: Idea Lab, the outlet Backstage concepts and the Bluemercury beauty stores.

Idea Lab, for which the company completed the group’s San Francisco headquarters last year, is focused on technology innovations. 

The company’s foray into the off-price segment, which began last year with its Macy’s Backstage concept, is something “we’re happy” with Lundgren said adding it’s helped the retailer access the Millennial consumer and also see stronger sales in categories Macy’s has not traditionally been strong in, such as home decor and packaged foods. The company’s now testing the shop-in-shop concept with Backstage, having placed the concept in two Macy’s stores.

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Institutes and Centers

The University of Arizona