Macy’s is shuffling its leadership team, announcing on Wednesday that Jeff Gennette, the chief executive since 2017, will retire in February after four decades with the department-store chain. He will be succeeded by Tony Spring, who runs the company’s luxury Bloomingdale’s chain.
Adrian Mitchell, 49, who has been Macy’s chief financial officer since November 2020, will add the title of chief operating officer to his duties and oversee the company’s store operations, technology and supply chain teams. Macy’s does not currently have the position of chief operating officer.
Macy’s, the largest department store chain in the United States, is still rebounding from the pandemic and dealing with inflation’s impact on how its core customers shop. Macy’s said last month that, while same-store sales slightly increased in 2022, active customers decreased. Digital sales were up compared with 2019 — a sign that its e-commerce offerings had improved — but sales at its brick-and-mortar locations had not returned to prepandemic levels.
This year, Macy’s expects comparable sales to decline between about 2 percent and 4 percent. Like other retailers, it’s contending with consumers’ pulling back on discretionary items like clothing and furniture as the price of food remains high. Macy’s expects a more favorable shopping environment next year, in part because of changes it is making to its operations.
Mr. Gennette’s marquee initiative, the so-called Polaris strategy, which was announced in early February 2020, seeks to modernize the Macy’s brand. The goal is fewer stores, with the remaining outlets in the highest-performing malls, and better competitiveness in the e-commerce marketplace. Macy’s must win over a younger set of customers who are not gravitating toward department stores as previous generations did.
The plan, complicated by the pandemic, has not been fully realized.
In an interview, Mr. Gennette, 61, said the progress was still in its “early innings.” During the pandemic, Macy’s has seen a younger and more diverse customer base.
Mr. Spring, 58, will now be responsible for helping Macy’s reach its goals. He has worked at Bloomingdale’s for 36 years and has been its chief executive since 2014. Mr. Spring worked alongside Macy’s senior leaders as they began its turnaround strategy, and has a background in merchandising and marketing.
“He has been influencing what’s been going on at Macy’s during that time frame — not been directly controlling it, but certainly is very well aware of certainly the connections between the brands like the loyalty programs and logistics strategies and technology strategies,” Mr. Gennette said of his successor.
Mr. Gennette described Bloomingdale’s under Mr. Spring as a “scrappy incubator” for ideas that will eventually be brought over to Macy’s, such as using data analytics for assortments and ways to improve its wedding registry business.
“He’s a very thoughtful guy,” Mr. Gennette said. “He’s very strategic. He takes his time in making decisions. But once he makes them, he goes quickly to implementation because he’s got a fully aligned team behind him.”
Mr. Spring said in a statement that he saw “tremendous opportunity to build upon the storied reputation of each of our nameplates,” referring to Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and the beauty chain Bluemercury.
When Mr. Gennette officially steps down, he will end a career with the company that began in 1983 in San Francisco. Mr. Gennette started at Macy’s in its executive training program after graduating from Stanford. He rose through the ranks, working as a merchant in divisions like men’s and children’s and overseeing stores in the Atlanta area.
He was briefly a store manager for the toy retailer F.A.O. Schwarz, from 1989 to 1990, and the director of stores for Broadway Stores before it was acquired, in the mid-90s, by the parent company of Macy’s at the time.
Before taking over from Terry Lundgren, the longtime chief of Macy’s, six years ago, Mr. Gennette was the company’s chief merchant and then its president. As chief executive, he has been outspoken about diversity initiatives, such as selling merchandise that resonates with Black communities and improving representation in the retailer’s top ranks. He is also among the few openly gay chief executives running a major U.S. company.
Mr. Gennette said that he had decided to retire because it was the right time for him and his family, and that he had nothing to announce about what he planned to do once he left Macy’s.