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Macy’s Finally Opens: Set To Stand Apart From Other Department Stores


October 19, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Next week, Macy’s opens its doors in Puerto Rico.

Oct. 25 marks the grand opening of the three-level 255,000-square-foot store at Plaza Las Americas. Macy’s first store on the island– an investment of $50 million – expects rough competition from Sears and JCPenney. For years, the two department stores dominated the local market by being more upscale than sister stores on the mainland.

"We think P.R. will be a terrific place to do business," Peter Sachse, vice chairman and director of Macy’s East told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS in an exclusive interview. "We’ve studied the market quite hard–from clothing to lipstick color–coming here off and on for the last three years as a merchandising group to try to understand the local tastes and what we need to do differently."

In a market where Sears carries high-end cosmetics such as Chanel–unheard of in mainland Sears stores–Macy’s had to apply creative concepts and offer more exclusive lines, some of them first-timers in P.R. "Our merchandize will be much more dissimilar [from]…our major competitors’ on the island," he said. "[We] will be similar to other Macy’s, but obviously take into account the difference in climate."

"We created terrific cosmetics and fragrance department stores with brands that you cannot not find in many of the local stores," he said. The Macy’s cosmetics department will carry brands such as MAC, Bobbi Brown, Interface, Bourjois, Origins, Hard Candy, and Interface.

The fragrance department will use an ‘assisted-sell’ method, featuring an open area for customers to "pick, play, and grab". "[The fragrances and cosmetics departments] will be very innovative, fresh, and new not only from a brand standpoint but from the way we merchandise and sell," he said. The juniors, jewelry, and women’s footwear departments also will be innovative, Sachse added.

"But most exciting, we will bring a lot of exclusive merchandise from our own private labels to ready-to-wear apparel," he continued. Federated Department Stores private labels include I.N.C., Style & Co., Club Room, and Alfani. Other brands available at Macy’s will include DKNY, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Jones, New York, and BCBG.

Practice makes perfect

Asked how Macy’s adapted to the local market, he said, "We’ve studied very hard what we bought [for the local store]. A lot of it is with the silhouettes, the colors we chose, short sleeve vs. long sleeve," he said. "But we also have a very large Puerto Rican customer base in New York."

"But quite honestly we need everybody’s input. As good as we think we’ve been, our customer will tell us very quickly what we did right and wrong and we will react just as quickly to that."

The company had a Puerto Rican vendor fair six months ago where local major manufacturers presented their products, he added.

Macy’s has had its eye on Puerto Rico for some time. "Federated and Plaza Las Americas has had conversations for years," he said. "We currently don’t have any plans [to expand], although you never know what the future holds. We know the market much better than we used to." Sachse continued, "Today, we are focused on opening Plaza’s store and meeting the needs of our Puerto Rican customers. When we have accomplished that, then we will consider other plans."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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