September 12, 2017 – Cincinnati-based retail giant Macy’s has named an eBay executive as its new president. The company tapped the services of New York-based retail-focused executive recruiter Herbert Mines Associates.
As president, Hal Lawton will be responsible for all aspects of the Macy’s brand, including merchandising, marketing, stores, operations, technology, and consumer insights and analytics. He will report to Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chief executive officer. Mr. Lawton has strong technology and digital expertise and was most recently senior vice president, eBay North America. He spent his earlier career at Home Depot and McKinsey & Company.
The Right Fit
“Hal Lawton has deep expertise at the intersection of retail and technology, a diverse set of business experiences that give him a unique perspective, and a track record of successfully driving a change agenda at scale. I’m thrilled that he has chosen to join Macy’s,” said Mr. Gennette. “This is a key step as we look to further transform the business and work through the volatility of today’s retail landscape. Macy’s already has one of the strongest omnichannel businesses in the industry, and with Hal on the team, we will accelerate the integration of digital both online and in our stores to deliver the world-class experience our customers demand.”
“At a time when there is both dramatic change and great potential in retail, I’m excited to be part of the team that will shape the future of the Macy’s brand and, along with it, consumer expectations of what a great omnichannel experience can be,” said Mr. Lawton. “I look forward to working with Jeff, the management team and Macy’s associates across the country. It’s great to play a part in the transformation of this iconic company.”
As SVP of eBay North America, Mr. Lawton was responsible for all aspects of eBay’s Americas business unit and oversaw a period of sustained, sequential performance improvement. Prior to joining eBay, he spent 10 years in various leadership roles at Home Depot, where he was most recently SVP for merchandising. While at Home Depot, Mr. Lawton was responsible for jump-starting homedepot.com and building it into a nearly $2 billion business.
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With fiscal 2016 sales of $25.778 billion and approximately 140,000 employees, Macy’s operates more than 700 department stores under the nameplates Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, and approximately 150 specialty stores that include Bloomingdale’s The Outlet, Bluemercury and Macy’s Backstage.
Herbert Mines is a specialist search boutique focusing on the retail, luxury, consumer products, hospitality & food service, fashion / apparel, and e-commerce industries. The firm is noted for its C-level recruiting work, placing presidents, chief operating officers and CEOs at a number of branded retailers, including Fred’s; Neiman Marcus; Payless ShoeSource; Ulta Beauty; Mama Rosa’s Pizza; Oregon Ice Cream Co.; Fender; Black Diamond; and Bare Snacks, among dozens of others.
Challenges Facing the Retail Sector
Leading recruiters says retailers are facing major shifts in their businesses that call for “unprecedented responses” by CEOs who can effectively lead through change, intuitively and analytically understand the evolving consumer, and respond to ambiguity.
According to Herbert Mines, 31 percent of incoming retail CEOs are focused on international expansion as a key strategic priority, making that global mindset a competitive differentiator when searching for new leaders.
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Retail CEO turnover is accelerating. According to the search firm, 47 percent of public retail companies with revenues exceeding $1 billion experienced a chief executive change the past five years (up from 34 percent during the previous three years). Since 2007, 71 percent of retail companies have experienced a switch in CEO.
Sonia Prais, a partner in the retail, beauty & lifestyle practice group at Ward Howell International, acknowledged that retail is undergoing a challenging period. “However, those who move nimbly, truly listen to their customers, learn how to respond on a ‘real-time’ basis to their needs, give outstanding customer service, and truly offer a highly efficient and workable omni-channel experience that entertains their customers will prevail and thrive,” she said.
“E-commerce has delivered and will continue to deliver as promised, and stores that have over-saturated with ‘bricks and mortar’ will adjust,” Ms. Prais said. “Customers still want to visit actual stores but that option must be offered in conjunction with the most up-to-date technology, whether in the store, on a mobile device, in an office, or at home. The retailers who will win and thrive will be those who can offer a seamless shopping experience. Clients are hiring for e-commerce, mobile development and roles that enhance customer experience and enjoyment. That’s where we see big opportunities ahead for talent.”
“There is significant evolution, innovation and disruption in the retail market right now and both are therefore poised as growth sectors for our industry,” said Margaret Gramann, managing director and leader of the consumer and retail practices at executive search firm Harvard Group International. “The consumer experience is at the heart of business success, or decline. We need to delight them with what they want, what they need and what they, yet, don’t know they want and need. And we need to deliver an integrated experience so they have the agility to engage from home, at stores or mobile.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media