Amidst a diminishing brick and mortar retail environment, big box retailers like Macy’s Inc. (NYSE:M) are being increasingly pressured by shareholders and activist investors to find means to return greater value to shareholders from their major real estate holdings.
Falling to that pressure, Macy’s Inc has announced taking on board Douglas Sesler as executive vice president for all of Macy’s real estate. Notably though, Macy’s has confirmed it is not interested in spinning off assets into a real estate investment trust (REIT). Rather, the company is aiming for mutually beneficial partnerships and joint ventures involving its properties.
Mr. Sesler – who previously served as president of real-estate investment and advisory firm True Square Capital LLC – will be responsible for not only working with the company’s lawyers, banking advisors and other key executives and board members, he will also lead partnership and joint venture agreements with other parties involving Macy’s properties.
As more and more shoppers turn to online shopping via fast growing e-commerce retailers like Amazon, traditional brick and mortar retailers like Walmart Stores Inc, Staples and Sears Holdings have all been left with unused physical space at many of their stores.
Macy’s last year landed a deal with an affiliate for Starwood Capital Group which involved selling off the top four floors of the company’s main downtown Seattle store. Later in January this year, the company announced it was shedding thousands of jobs and said it will hire executives to draft out a better use of its real estate properties.
For the holiday period, Macy’s – which was partially affected by an unusually late winter – reported same store sales falling 4.7% (in the last two months of 2015).
Notably Macy’s has not been the only big box retailer making such a move. A wall Street Journal report on Monday claimed Staples is mulling a partnership with office-sharing startup Workbar LLC to rent out parts of unused space at three of its Boston-area based stores into offices – a move aimed at giving more people a reason to visit Staples’ stores for office supplies as well as better utilizing excess store space.
Sears Holdings too has leased out some portions of its stores to other retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods as well as to Whole Foods Market Inc. Sears same store sales last year slipped 9.2%, according to the Journal.