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Macy's Kicks Off Revamp Of 50 U.S. Stores In $200M Modernization Drive

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Though department store giants Macy's and Sears were once like birds of a feather, the two have been flying in opposite directions this year.

Macy's

Macy's has begun relaunching stores as part of its Growth 50 program, the Dallas Morning News reports. The department store giant is spending more than $200M this year to renovate and modernize 50 of its most well-located stores to capitalize on its surprising turnaround that started last year and has continued through the first two quarters this year.

Under the Growth 50 initiative, stores will get new lighting, flooring, fitting rooms and bathrooms, an area for in-store pickups and the return of online purchases, more square footage devoted to dresses, and a light food and drink option. Two of the first stores to relaunch, at NorthPark Center in Dallas and Stonebriar Mall in Frisco, Texas, now have Starbucks in the stores, the Morning News reports.

In addition to physical upgrades, Growth 50 stores will gain additional staff to assist shoppers, especially in the expanded dress section. The NorthPark location will add five sales staff to that section alone, which has grown to 2,900 SF. All stores will add inventory across all sections from new brands in an attempt to stay nimble and keep interest high.

Macy's has been aggressive in expanding to chase its recent success, even as it continued to close some of its worst-performing stores this year.

Macy's Kicks Off Revamp Of 50 U.S. Stores In $200M Modernization Drive

In July, the company announced the planned opening of 60 new, stand-alone Bluemercury cosmetics stores, in addition to the integration of Bluemercury into the Growth 50 stores. Macy's off-price arm, Macy's Backstagealso is expanding and will join some Growth 50 locations as well.

Two years ago, Macy's was spoken in the same breath as Sears as they lost money and closed stores to slow down their collective march toward obsolescence. But Macy's responded to its decline by diversifying and attempting to keep up with the times, such as its 2015 purchase of Bluemercury.

Meanwhile, after years of declining sales and the shuffling around of financial assets, Sears Holding Co. officially filed for bankruptcy Oct. 15, announcing the shuttering of 142 locations on top of all previously announced closures. ESL Holdings leader and hedge fund billionaire Eddie Lampert stepped down as CEO, though he remains chairman of the company and its real estate spinoff, Seritage Growth Properties.

Two Sears board members have secured the services of Evercore to investigate Lampert's decision to spin off $2.7B of Sears real estate into another company in which he was the controlling shareholder, Reuters reports. A spokesperson for ESL Holdings told Reuters that it welcomes the investigation, calling it a routine step after a bankruptcy filing.