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Federated Department Stores announced yesterday that it is converting its Marshall Field’s stores to the Macy’s banner by autumn of next year.

"We have great respect for the legacy and traditions of Marshall Field's, and we carefully researched customer preferences and studied alternatives before making this decision to incorporate Marshall Field's into the nationwide Macy's brand," Federated CEO Terry Lundgren said in a statement.

The company also announced that it is “studying its options” for its Lord & Taylor division.
KC's View:
With all due respect, we think this is a load of crap.

We think that the only research that matters to Federated in this case is that done into its accountants’ preferences. The guys with the eyeshades no doubt believe that one brand name will cut down on advertising and marketing costs.

But we cannot imagine any circumstances under which it makes sense to stop using a grand old retailing name with so much consumer resonance and history in America’s Midwest.

It so happens that we’re in Seattle, where we spoke at a conference sponsored by Associated Grocers. A similar change took place here, when Federated converted the Bon Marche chain to the Macy’s name – and there wasn’t one person in the audience who seemed to think it had been a good idea. One person said that it only meant that the store had to offer more promotions to get people in the front door. (We’re not from Seattle, but even to us the Macy’s name on the building looks a little odd.)

This kind of centralization almost never makes sense, because it is based on the needs and the desires of the company – not the needs and desires of local consumers.