Field’s Day Approaches: The Bidding Kicks Off For Famed Retail Chain

Target Corp. will begin to take offers this month on its Marshall Field’s and Mervyn’s divisions, raising the possibility of completing deals...

Some industry experts believe the Macy’s East division of Federated, rather than Macy’s West, would run Field’s. While Macy’s West is more fashionable and slightly more upscale, Macy’s East operates in climates that are more similar to Field’s territory. Macy’s East, based here, is also geographically closer to Field’s, and only an hour time difference away, versus a two-hour time difference with the San Francisco-based Macy’s West.

At least a couple of Field’s units could become Bloomingdale’s, including the one in the Somerset Collection, in Troy, Mich. It’s a higher-end store with a heavy component of bridge lines and some designer brands, such as St. John. On the other hand, there is a strong Field’s unit in the Oakland Mall in Troy, which is not as upscale as the Somerset unit.

Overall, the merchandise at Field’s is priced at and above Macy’s and below Bloomingdale’s, but it’s not as promotional as Macy’s and as contemporary or trendy as Bloomingdale’s.

If May took over Field’s, its strategy would be different. Lacking a national retail nameplate, May most likely would try to maximize the Field’s name and capitalize on its better brand assortment to help elevate other divisions. “May is focusing more selectively on certain brands and trying to do a much better job of merchandising,” said a retail consultant. “May had kind of backed off from higher-end brands, especially when the economy was less resilient, to compete with Kohl’s and Penney’s. They now see opportunities by taking the high road” with such brands as Polo Ralph Lauren.

Analysts said it’s unlikely May or Federated would take Field’s far outside its current reach by adding many new stores, since it would then bump into their own divisions and steeper competition. Also, in the Eighties, Field’s opened stores in Texas, which flopped and were eventually closed and sold off.

“Marshall Field’s lost its way somewhere along the way,” Nakfoor said. “They tried to be too many things to too many people. The State Street remodel is a good model, though the company hasn’t done a good job of translating much or any of it to branch stores.”
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