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Robinson's Chain to Take Over Five Goldwaters Stores

January 07, 1989|MARTHA GROVES | Times Staff Writer

The 24-store Robinson's chain in Southern California will grow on Feb. 26 when it takes over operation of five Goldwaters stores in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., the chains' owner, May Department Stores, said Friday.

Also as part of the consolidation, which will mean the elimination of the Goldwaters name, May Co. California will take over a Goldwaters store in Las Vegas, and May D&F in Denver will operate the Goldwaters store in Albuquerque, N.M. Two other Goldwaters stores in Tucson, where May also owns Foley's stores, are being put up for sale.

The Goldwaters name in Phoenix and Scottsdale will be changed to Robinson's over a period of several months, said Jim Abrams, a spokesman for St. Louis-based May. About 400 jobs at Goldwaters' central office and distribution center will be eliminated, but Abrams said the company will attempt to place as many of the employees as possible at other May stores.

Goldwaters was founded in 1860 by Michel (Mike) Goldwater, great-grandfather of former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater. Many early purchases were paid for with gold dust. The original store also installed Arizona's first passenger elevator and staged the state's first fashion show, in 1929. The chain became part of Associated Dry Goods in 1962.

Robert Kahn, a management consultant in Lafayette, Calif., who publishes the Retailing Today newsletter, noted that all department store companies "are looking at how many overheads they can carry." Combining divisions can save several million dollars a year, he said.

In 1986, May merged its Strouss chain in Youngstown, Ohio, into its Kaufmann's operation in Pittsburgh. In 1987, it combined the Denver Dry Goods Co. into May D&F in Denver, and this year it combined O'Neil's in Akron, Ohio, with May Co. Cleveland. With the elimination of the Goldwaters name, it will operate 16 divisions.

Analysts say Robinson's, which May bought in 1986 as part of Associated Dry Goods, appears to be emerging from a difficult period of losses and management turmoil. "I would guess that Robinson's is profitable," said William N. Smith, an analyst with the Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. brokerage in New York. With the addition of the Goldwaters stores, Robinson's sales will rise to more than $675 million from a 1987 level of $576 million.

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