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Macy’s is Our 2018 Retail Most Valuable Player

Macy’s is Our Wolfe Pack Retail Ratings 2018 Most Valuable Player


Macy’s has had a rough last couple of years but they didn’t give up and have fought tooth and nail to make their way back. To do so, the iconic retailer has:

  • Gone all-out with its store-within-a-store concept and partnered with leading digitally-native brands, including Facebook 
  • Hired employees to be influencers
  • Acquired disrupter Story
  • Launched a new partnership with b8ta for a brand-agnostic tech store within its store 
  • Tackled the look-and-feel of its stores and invested approximately $200 million this year on 50 of its best stores to add new lighting, flooring and other fixtures (via CNBC)
  • Diversified into the healthy off-price trend. Macy’s has opened about 165 Backstage stores within its stores. The company reports 2x more shopping trips, with basket sizes up an average of 30%. (via CNBC)
  • Accommodated for omnichanneling by creating BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) lines in the hopes customers that pickup their online purchases in-store will also add a few more items to their purchase
  • Updated and upgraded its app and rewards program which now allows non-credit card holders to earn points, and offers other cool things like an augmented reality furniture shopping tool


The results seem to be paying off. Macy’s:

  • Expects its mobile sales will reach $1 billion by the end of the year
  • Reduced its debt in the last seven quarters from $6.9 billion to $5.5 billion
  • Has experienced growth at the same-store and company-wide levels (see graphics below)

Sales at Macy’s stores open for at least 12 months (on an owned basis, as a %)


(Data source: eMarketer; Graphic: Wolfe Retail Group)

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Macy’s Gets 2.5 Paws Up!

It’s 2.5 Paws Up for Macy’s!

While Macy’s has gotten a bad rap in the last couple of years, we think they’re on their way to making a comeback. Ignoring the recent data breach, Macy’s has been making an effort to reposition itself and play on at least some of its assets.

For example:

  • They’ve recently started to work more closely with influencers, well-known ones with established followings and even more interesting, using its store employees and stylists as Instagram influencers to drive salesRead more here.
  • They’re extending their store-within-a-store concept to include pop-up marketplaces which are meant to drive traffic back repeatedly to view what’s next, similar to Story which they recently acquired
  • Although they’re still trying to figure this out, Macy’s also jumped into the popular off-price segment by opening Backstage

While they’re stumbling in some of these initiatives, we give them credit for making a go of it and for being willing to fight to stay in the game. They’re choosing interesting trends, tapping into their biggest assets–such as beauty, an audience, and real estate–and seem to have stopped looking back to look toward a brighter future for the brand.

We look forward to your comments on LinkedIn here.

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Panera Bread Four Paws Up

We’re giving Panera Bread Four Paws Up for their commitment to continuous innovation and evolution while staying true to who they are as a brand.



As an example of their willingness to innovate, Panera recently grew their omni-channeling capabilities by expanding its delivery program to ~13,000 drivers and employees, up from 10k in 2017, making delivery available from 1,300 locations, in 897 cities, in 43 states using their app or website. 

Delivery is driving their digital sales which currently account for 30% of total sales, including kiosk orders. Unlike other chains that have turned to 3rd party delivery partners, which can take a significant cut (up to 30%!), Panera has developed their own fleet to control the process and profit end-to-end. (Think, pizza delivery but for bakery-cafe set.)

In addition, they’ve extended their technology to include mobile ordering and Rapid PickUp®, have a commitment to 100% clean food, and have one of the largest loyalty programs in the industry with over 25 million members (APR ’17).

As a result, Panera has been one of the most successful restaurant companies in history. Before the JAB acquisition in July 2017, Panera was the best-performing restaurant stock of the past 20 years, delivering a total shareholder return up 86-fold from July 18, 1997, to July 18, 2017, compared to a less than twofold increase for the S&P 500 during the same period.

Panera’s vision isn’t solely focused on technology and delivery.

In late 2017, Panera further enhanced its brick-and-mortar commitment by acquiring Au Bon Pain Holding Co. Inc., parent company of the 304-unit Au Bon Pain bakery-café chain. The acquisition reunites Panera and Au Bon Pain, and enhances Panera’s positioning and growth opportunities in new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities and transportation centers.

Excluding the Au Bon Pain acquisition, Panera grew its brick-and-mortar footprint through franchise and company-owned location growth with:

2017 Franchise-Owned*:

  • Outlets at the Start of the Year:  1,099
  • Outlets at the End of the Year:  1,112
  • Net Change:  +13

2017 Company-Owned

  • Outlets at the Start of the Year:  901
  • Outlets at the End of the Year:  931
  • Net Change:  +30


In their last public quarterly report in APR 2017 (the same month in which they entered into an agreement to be acquired by JAB), the company reported that company-owned comparable net bakery-cafe sales increased 5.3%, franchise-operated comparable net bakery-cafe sales increased 0.3%, and system-wide comparable net bakery-cafe sales increased 2.6% compared to the same period in fiscal 2016.


Be a part of the Panera success model. See our extraordinary selection of single-tenant Panera properties from across the country here: