Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette will retire early next year after a four-decade career at the company, the department store chain announced Wednesday morning.
Gennette, 61, plans to step down in February. He will be succeeded by Tony Spring, CEO of the company’s higher-end department store banner, Bloomingdale’s.
In addition to the CEO change, Macy’s Chief Financial Officer Adrian Mitchell will take on an expanded role and also serve as the company’s chief operating officer. He will lead store operations, technology and supply chain teams, along with his existing role over finance and real estate.
When Gennette stepped into Macy’s top role in 2017, he faced declining sales and hard questions of whether the storied retailer — and department stores in general — could survive as customers moved online and increasingly shopped at discounters, e-commerce players and fashion-forward brands.
He spearheaded efforts to reinvigorate the nearly 165-year-old company. He kicked off Macy’s three-year turnaround plan, called Polaris, announced in February 2020. It called for accelerating digital growth, closing underperforming shops and investing in the company’s best stores to boost profits.
Over the past three years, Gennette navigated the company through another major challenge: A pandemic that forced Macy’s to temporarily shutter its nearly 800 stores and furlough the majority of its employees.
The retailer emerged from the pandemic with a smaller workforce and store footprint, but with less debt and more modern, data-driven organization.
Shares of the company have fallen about 50% since March 2017, when Gennette took over the top job, but the stock has rebounded dramatically from lows in March and April 2020, just after Covid was designated a pandemic.
Last year, the retailer managed to avoid the inventory woes of many of its retail peers — setting it up better for the holiday season and start of the fiscal year. It has recently broken from its typical role of shopping mall anchor by opening and testing several smaller and off-mall locations.
Gennette has also stood out as an openly gay leader of a publicly traded company. He has been a vocal champion of equal rights, such as publicly backing and expressing company support for the Respect for Marriage Act.
In a news release, Macy’s said Spring, 58, was tapped as its next leader after an internal and external search.
Bloomingdale’s, which Spring currently leads, has been one of the strongest parts of Macy’s business. The banner, which has fewer stores, but more luxury brands and bigger-spending customers, outperformed Macy’s namesake banner during each quarter of the past fiscal year.
The company also includes beauty banner Bluemercury, which Spring also helped reposition into another bright spot for the company.
Gennette praised Spring’s performance.
“Tony consistently innovates for the customer, is an exceptional brand builder and an excellent talent developer who has strengthened our culture through his leadership,” he said in a new release.
Gennette called Spring and Mitchell “an ideal team to build on our momentum and propel Macy’s, Inc. into the future.”