Lord & Taylor
|Headquarters||New York, New York, USA|
|Number of locations||50|
|Products||Clothing, footwear, jewelry, beauty products, fragrances, electronics, bedding and housewares|
|Parent||Hudson's Bay Company|
Lord & Taylor, colloquially known as L&T, or LT, based in New York City, New York, The USA, is the oldest upscale, specialty-retail department store chain in the United States. Concentrated in the eastern U.S., the retailer operated independently for nearly a century prior to joining American Dry Goods (later renamed Associated Dry Goods Corp.). Today, Lord & Taylor is the sole surviving department store nameplate from Associated, as well as from May Department Stores. Lord & Taylor is wholly owned and operated by NRDC Equity Partners. NRDC bought the chain from Federated Department Stores in October 2006 as Federated sought to concentrate on the Macy's chain after their purchase of May Department Stores (with all May department store nameplates having been converted to Macy's), and because the Lord & Taylor brand conflicted with Macy's and especially the Bloomingdale's brand.
Following its acquisition of Lord & Taylor, NRDC Equity Partners has since acquired Hudson's Bay Company in Canada. In 2008, NRDC's portfolio of retail companies became components of a new multinational limited partnership, Hudson's Bay Trading Company, L.P. On January 23, 2012, The Financial Post reported that Richard Baker had dissolved Hudson’s Bay Trading Co., and Hudson's Bay Company would operate both Hudson's Bay Company and Lord & Taylor.
Lord & Taylor consists of 50 stores and lordandtaylor.com, an online retail site. Anchoring many upscale regional malls in the Northeast, Lord & Taylor's main competitors include the Barneys, Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue department store chains. The company's logo was designed by Andrew Geller, at the time working with Raymond Loewy.
Samuel Lord, an immigrant to the United States from England and George Washington Taylor, his wife's cousin, founded the store in 1826 on Catherine Street in Manhattan in order to sell hosiery, misses' wear and "elegant Cashmere shawls". By 1861, the store was located on Broadway at Grand Street, and in 1870 they moved to a newly constructed cast-iron building at Broadway and 20th Street, in the area that became known as the "Ladies' Mile" because of all the emporia there. Later, it was one of the first major stores on Fifth Avenue (preceded by B Altman & Co. at 5TH Avenue and 35TH ST in 1906, which was considered to be "the granddaddy" of Fifth Avenue department stores.) Among other firsts, it was the first store to present innovative Christmas windows filled with holiday displays rather than merchandise, and the first to open a branch store (1941 in Manhasset). Lord & Taylor is also known for playing the national anthem before the start of each business day.
In 1916, Lord & Taylor became a founding member of the American Dry Goods Co., soon after renamed Associated Dry Goods Corp. It was a long-time fashion leader and considered the "crown jewel" of Associated; when the May Company acquired ADG in 1986, it was assumed that May bought ADG just for the upscale Lord & Taylor division.
Lord & Taylor opened its Starrett & van Vleck designed flagship store and headquarters on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th streets on February 24, 1914. In December 2007, it was named a New York City landmark.
In 1946, Lord & Taylor became the first major store on Fifth Avenue to name a woman, Dorothy Shaver, as president.
Shaver's association with Lord & Taylor began in 1921 when then-President Samuel Reyburn encouraged her to promote and market "Five Little Shavers," a family of dolls created by her sister, Elsie. Dorothy Shaver's challenges grew when she officially joined Lord & Taylor in 1924 as head of the Comparative Shopping Bureau. It didn't take long for Shaver to re-channel the department's focus from the competition to Lord & Taylor's own customers, putting them first by providing one on one help as they made their selections. With that, the concept of the Personal Shopper was born, flourishing today at Lord & Taylor as Red Rose Personal Shopping Service. During her first few months with the store, she submitted an entirely unsolicited report to the president, analyzing what was wrong with the company and how to correct it.
Shaver was given more responsibility, sales increased and, in 1927, her innovations earned her membership on Lord & Taylor's Board of Directors. In 1931, she was appointed Vice President, and became First Vice President in 1937. In 1941 Ms. Shaver, working with the well-known design firm of Raymond Loewy Associates, opened in Manhasset what is credited as the first true branch store in America. Unlike earlier forays into the suburbs that consisted of smaller boutique-style shops, this was a merchandising effort that became the model for modern suburban shopping. The store consisted of 66 individual shops. Lord & Taylor's relationship with Raymond Loewy Associates continued until 1969, following the construction of the Stamford, Connecticut, store (designed by Loewy Vice President Andrew Geller). Shaver was elected president in 1945, the first woman to head a major retail establishment in the United States.
Many of Lord & Taylor's special services were introduced while Shaver presided, and it was during this period that she introduced both the distinctive Andrew Geller hand written logo (The Signature of American Style), and the American Beauty Rose as a symbol of the store. In 1953, Lord & Taylor presented an award for independent thinking, which Albert Einstein won for his "nonconformity" in scientific matters. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the innovation of having female, uniformed elevator operators with red heads operating on one side and brunettes operating on the other were the talk of the town. As a perk and to maintain their impeccable appearance, the operators would have their makeup and hair done at the upscale Lord & Taylor salon each day before starting. Shaver's era ended officially upon her death in 1959, but her legacy and innovative retailing concepts continue at Lord & Taylor to this day.
Starting in June 2000, Jane Elfers served as Lord & Taylor's second female CEO, and is largely the architect of its turnaround strategy. She has been replaced, due to the restructuring of the brand in October 2008, by former Neiman Marcus executive, Brendan Hoffman. According to Richard Baker, her contract had expired.
Expansion and retreat
While a part of Associated, William J. Lippincott was promoted to president in 1968, succeeding Melvin E. Dawley (who succeeded Dorothy Shaver), and was elected chairman and chief executive in 1972. His The New York Times obituary read: "In his years as president and chairman, Lord & Taylor moved beyond its traditional territory in the Northeast to open stores in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas and four stores in Illinois." A management shakeup ousted him in 1976.
Under the leadership of CEO Joseph E. Brooks during the 1970s, the company aggressively expanded into Texas, Illinois and Michigan; in the early 1980s, South Florida saw 11 stores opened in quick succession. The chain partially withdrew from the oil-shocked Texas and southern Florida markets in 1989-1990 after its 1986 acquisition by May.
Under May, the majority of ADG's Hahne & Co. division (six New Jersey locations) and several former John Wanamaker's and Woodward & Lothrop locations were assumed by Lord & Taylor. From 1997 to 2006, Lord & Taylor occupied the former Wanamaker's flagship store in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, May attempted to expand the chain nationally. Under the leadership of CEO Marshall Hilsberg, Lord & Taylor once again entered the expansion mode in the 1990s, opening stores as far west as Denver, with plans to enter the Las Vegas market. At one time, Lord & Taylor had as many as 86 stores across the country.
After continuing tepid results and repeated tinkering with its merchandising, May gave up its national ambitions for the division. Newly appointed President and CEO Jane Elfers announced the shuttering of 32 stores in 2003 (representing 38% of the division's store base and 35% of its total square footage, but only 19% of total sales). Many of the closed locations were only a few years old and most were in a market where most people were not willing to pay Lord & Taylor's prices. The company's strategy for the move was to concentrate on its "core" East Coast Corridor markets (New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., metro) as well its midwest locations in Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis.
Restructuring circa 2003
Following its dramatic restructuring in 2003, Lord & Taylor's leadership sought a return to the store's upscale roots. A renewed focus was placed on creating and maintaining an upscale experience in the remaining 54 locations, with determination to leave behind perception of a bland May Co. middle-of-the-road merchandising strategy. Alterations, such as conversion of remaining Lord & Taylor Cafés into Larry Forgione's Signature Cafés (since rebranded as Lord & Taylor Signature), were evidence of the chain's intent to have a more clearly defined signature style. Eight L&T Signature Cafés are currently in operation. In the fall of 2008, Sarabeth's opened within the 5 Avenue store. On the fifth floor is a full-service restaurant while on the sixth floor is a coffee bar. Plans were to rebrand existing restaurants company-wide that are Lord & Taylor Signature into Sarabeth's by the first quarter of 2009. To date the Garden City, Manhasset, and Eastchester stores have converted their dining rooms into Sarabeth's.
Just three years later, the continuation of this effort came into doubt when May Department Stores was acquired by Federated Department Stores on August 30, 2005. Lord & Taylor served the market between Federated's Macy's and Bloomingdale's chains, and on January 12, 2006, Federated chairman, president, and CEO Terry Lundgren announced that Lord & Taylor would be sold by the end of the year. In early March 2006, prepping the company for sale, Federated announced that 5 underperforming Lord & Taylor stores would close (Christiana Mall, Delaware; Northshore Mall, Massachusetts; Fairlane Town Center, Michigan; West County Center and St. Louis Galleria, Missouri). The Center City, Philadelphia store, the former flagship of the John Wanamaker chain, was converted to Macy's on August 1, 2006. On June 22, 2006, it announced that NRDC Equity Partners, LLC would purchase Lord & Taylor for $1.2 billion, a sale that was completed in October 2006. Federated continued to service Lord & Taylor consumer credit accounts in an agreement with NRDC under the terms of its sale until mid-2007. In March 2007, General Growth Properties declined to renew the lease to the Water Tower Place store shuttering a prominent downtown Chicago location which had opened in 1975.
In addition to the rebranding campaign, NRDC Equity Partners, the parent company of Lord & Taylor, committed to spending $250 million to renovate current stores and look for new locations in the Chicago area. Lord & Taylor reported a jump in sales after many of May's stores took on the Macy's nameplate in 2006. The Fifth Avenue flagship store underwent a $150 million renovation, and several suburban locations have been renovated as well.
A branding campaign aimed at highlighting upgraded merchandise was presented in the fall. New and upscale clothing brands were added to the assortment, such as Escada, Barbour, Michael Kors, Herve Leger, Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, La Prairie, Juicy Couture and Coach. Lord & Taylor had also introduced five private label product lines. The brands include "Kate Hill," "Kate Hill Casual," "Identity," and "Context" for women, and "Black Brown 1826" for men.
Noted designer Joseph Abboud has partnered with Lord & Taylor to oversee the creative direction for the men's department. Abboud will assume design responsibility for all classifications of Lord & Taylor's proprietary men's product, named Black Brown 1826, including tailored clothing, sportswear, and accessories. Black Brown 1826 debuted for the fall 2008 season with deliveries beginning in August.
In May 2008, celebrity fashion stylist Robert Verdi created a series of online video clips on the Lord & Taylor website with fashion tips and sound bites of shoppers telling Verdi why they love Lord & Taylor.
Hudson's Bay Company
On July 16, 2008, NRDC Equity Partners announced that it had purchased the 338-year-old Canadian department store retailer, Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), for an undisclosed price, with the intention of rebuilding the brand, and expanding Lord & Taylor internationally. HBC operates nearly 600 stores under four banners from coast to coast, including several large Bay department stores in the downtown cores of several Canadian cities. Richard Baker, head of NRDC cited the Bay's flagship Queen Street store in Toronto as an example, which covers nearly 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) over several floors. The combined company consists of Lord & Taylor and Canadian banners: The Bay, Home Outfitters, and Zellers stores.
Turnaround and expansion
Since the beginning of the new decade, Lord & Taylor has shown strong signs of turning around its financial position. On September 17, 2010, Women's Wear Daily reported in an article that sources within the company said that Lord & Taylor was looking towards its first expansion in 10 years with a second site in Westchester County, NY being sought. The Scarsdale branch in Westchester County is currently the chain's second highest performing store (behind 5th Ave.) with annual sales between $90 million and $100 million. Sources said that the current Scarsdale location did not allow for expansion and a second Westchester County site would expand upon the company's focus of its East Coast "core" market.
In December 2010, Lord & Taylor announced it would be opening a second store in Westchester County, at the Ridge Hill shopping center in Yonkers. The store is the first new Lord & Taylor store announced since 2001, and it opened on April 13, 2012. In addition, Lord & Taylor opened its first New Hampshire store at the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem on March 16, 2012, also its first grand opening in a decade.
Lord & Taylor officially returned to Florida on Friday, July 15, 2011 with the opening of an outlet store at the Dolphin Mall in Miami. The 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) outlet store is only the third of the kind in the country for Lord & Taylor and its first opening in the state of Florida since closing all of its department stores in the state in 2006. The other outlets are located in New Jersey and Michigan. The store will carry a mix of women’s, men’s and children’s clothes and accessories. Chief Executive Brendan Hoffman said earlier this year that South Florida is tops on the retailer's list for new market expansion plans. On October 16, 2011, the company announced it would open an 80,000 square foot store at Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Florida, bringing the total number of stores to 50. The Mizner Park store is planned to open in the fall of 2013.
In August 2013, Lord & Taylor announced their return to New York's Capital Region with a new store planned for the Crossgates Mall in Guilderland, New York, to open in late 2014. Lord & Taylor had previously operated a store at the mall from 1994 to 2005.
Lord & Taylor's core market today stretches along the Northeast Megalopolis, with a store network extending from northern Virginia to New Hampshire, including several locations in Western New York state. Outside the Northeast, they have a strong presence in the midwestern markets of Chicago and Detroit, and will be once again established in South Florida upon the opening of the full-line store at Mizner Park in Boca Raton.
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- Lord & Taylor Careers, retrieved September 26, 2013
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- "A Double Diamond May Not Be Forever". The New York Times, Bruce Lambert, May 6, 2005.
- Burrows, Edwin G. & Wallace, Mike Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
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- "Andrew Geller's Lord & Taylor Building Landmarked but Still at Risk". Preservation Corner, Oct 15, 2009.
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- Who'll Take Lord & Taylor's Vacant Stores?; Retail Traffic Jul 31, 2003; retrieved December 19, 2006
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- Federated Agrees to Sell Lord & Taylor to NRDC Equity Partners; Transaction Expected to Close in Third Quarter of 2006, Federated Department Stores, Inc., June 22, 2006.
- Retail Merchandiser Magazine Online - Lord and Taylor Confirms Creation of Proprietary Menswear Line With Designer Joseph Abboud
- , Women's Wear Daily, retrieved on September 22, 2010.
- Forest City Nabs Lord & Taylor for Westchester's Ridge Hill - Citybizlist New York
- Covert, James (October 17, 2011). "Lord & Taylor eyes growth". New York Post.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lord & Taylor.|
- Official website
- Lord & Taylor on Twitter
- Hudson Bay Company official website
- NRDC Equity Partners official website
- Setting the Precedent: Four Women who Excelled in Business
- Papers, 1947-1956. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.