R. H. Macy & Co. on Monday named Joseph Cicio chairman and chief executive of I. Magnin, its specialty retail division, in a move that some analysts say could signal a sale of the upscale West Coast chain.
Cicio will replace Rose Marie Bravo, who is becoming president of Saks Fifth Avenue. Bravo's departure is the latest in an executive exodus that has plagued Macy's since it filed for bankruptcy protection in January.
"It only underscores the chaos and confusion that seems to be reigning at Macy's," said Kurt Barnard, president of Retail Consulting Group in New York City. "At this juncture, Macy can't afford the defection of executives who know what's going on."
I. Magnin's consistent losses--combined with the departure of Bravo, an expert in high fashion retailing--does not bode well for I. Magnin's future, Barnard said. Unlike Bravo, Cicio's background is in store design, store planning and visual merchandising, not high fashion, Barnard said.
Cicio, who declined to divulge his age, is Macy's senior vice president for fashion direction and creative resources, a position he has held for two months. Barnard speculated that Cicio's new role may be to give the company a crisp image, making it ripe for a sale.
"I. Magnin is going through a terrible thing that has nothing to do with the downturn in the economy," Barnard said. "All the competitors were eating its (I. Magnin's) lunch."
Steven Kornajcik, senior vice president for sales promotion for Macy's East division, will succeed Cicio. Kornajcik will have the new title of senior vice president of visual merchandising.
Macy's called the change in leadership at I. Magnin opportune because the chain is turning around. But analysts said it will be difficult for Macy's to revive I. Magnin, which has lost market share to other retailers and seen its sales hurt by California's economic slump.
I. Magnin, based in San Francisco, has 11 stores in Southern California and 19 total, including outlets in Northern California, Arizona and Washington state.
"We've gone through four years of restructuring and refining so that today I. Magnin is positioned as a premier West Coast retailer," Cicio said in a written statement. "I look forward to realizing its potential."
Since Macy's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, there has been speculation in the industry that it will downsize by selling I. Magnin. Alan J. Millstein, editor and publisher of the newsletter Fashion Network Report, said the big question is whether the chain will remain part of Macy's come 1993.
Cicio joined Macy's in 1976 as administrator-director of visual merchandising for what was then known as the New York division. In 1981, he became senior vice president for visual merchandising. He was appointed senior vice president for store design and visual merchandising in 1985.