Posts Tagged ‘wsj’


Friday, December 11th, 2015





Tuesday, December 1st, 2015





Sales and discount concept


Monday, February 24th, 2014


Ohio Stores – Halle Brothers Company – Cleveland


Halle Brothers was the upscale department store for Cleveland. It was founded in 1891 by Samuel Horatio Halle and his brother, Salmon Portland Chase Halle. The first store was located in Public Square, and later moved to Euclid Avenue and 4th. The large headquarters store on Euclid Avenue was opened in 1927. The company first started suburban expansion in 1929 with the opening of stores in Erie, Pa, Mansfield, New Castle, Pa, and Canton,

 Halle’s grew dramatically during WW2, and shortly afterwards as the Cleveland economy boomed. The store was noted for its high end merchandise, and superior customer service. The store was considered to be among the best stores in the U.S. In 1948, the company opened another store in Shaker Square.

During the 1960s, the company faced hard times as did the City of Cleveland. East Cleveland deteriorated as Sterling-Lindner and Bonwit-Teller stores closed. Shoppers from the suburbs who took the trains into downtown tended to shop at stores near the terminal (May Company and Higbee’s), and preferred not to take a shuttle bus down to Halle Brothers. The company continued to open suburban stores to counteract the losses developing at the downtown stores. These included: Shaker Square, Cedar Center, Westgate, Southland, Severance, Summit Mall, Beldon Village, and Mill Creek. This increased the store count to 15.

In 1970, Marshall-Fields bought Halle’s and did little to stem the declines at Halle Brothers as Marshall Fields faced issues with its’ other business operations.

In 1981, the company was sold to an investor group led by Jerome Schottenstein, the owner of Value City stores. The sale included the chains stores located in Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The investor group closed stores down to a six-store chain, and then liquidated the entire chain in 1982.

Intellectual Search Process at Plummer & Associates

Monday, February 17th, 2014


 The following is an example of the intellectual search process.  (The short story is that we successfully recruited an executive for an important client; the long story is how we did it. I would like you to read the long story!)


The Client:  A New York City based on-line retailer of grocery products which delivers directly to the customer. This company is well-known for the freshness and quality of products as well as on-time delivery.


The Recruitment Challenge: We were engaged to recruit an executive to lead operations and supply chain management working out of the existing facility in the NYC area while also planning for a new network to support aggressive growth throughout the East.  Our client desired an executive who had extensive experience with sophisticated pick & pack fulfillment operations and supply chain systems and who knew how to be pragmatic in the selection and installation of systems to a labor intensive operation.  In other words, we needed to recruit an executive who could plan at the 100,000 foot altitude while simultaneously working day-to-day on the floor to understand which manual operations and processes could be automated effectively without negatively impacting the quality and freshness of product delivered to the customer.  In other words, could the knowledge and skill of a tomato pick and packer be effectively replaced by a machine? Since this facility also manufactured ready-to-eat meals, manufacturing knowledge and skills were also mandated.   Equally importantly, the client required an executive who could work well with and relate to the employees on the operating floor, who would understand their processes and procedures, and document/enhance those processes and procedures so that they could be incorporated at new facilities in the network. This executive would also have the communications skills and style to earn the respect of all levels of employees to maintain a positive workforce through any facility transitions and/or process changes.


The Intellectual Search Strategy: Plummer & Associates put together a strategy to identify executives in several talent banks from which to select the best possible talent. We contacted  executives in online fulfillment operations, automobile  supply chain management, food commissaries, retail fresh foods distribution, food manufacturing/  processing, food service distribution, 3PL’s, 4PL’s, pharmaceutical distribution, traditional retail distribution, wholesale fruit and vegetable distribution, floral distribution, convenience store distribution,  and many other sources. Through this process we identified over 470 potential candidates before we narrowed the slate to a few candidates who had all the experience we sought.


The Result: The successful candidate came from a background of manufacturing operations, supply chain management, pick & pack fulfillment operations, and management  consulting. The successful candidate has a bachelor’s degree in   Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Industrial Administration. Most importantly she has a style which allows her to effectively build relationships up, down, and across the organization.


This search could not have been successfully completed by the typical recruiter who touts that he/she knows all the talent in the industry. This search could only be completed by a firm usingthe intellectual approach to executive search, a firm that understands the skills and knowledge required, a firm that knowsthe  organizations in which an executive would have gained that experience, a firm dedicated to and heavily invested  in the research process, and, most importantly, a firm that thrives on true executive search.


Plummer & Associates is proud of the work it does for its clients. We are married to the executive search process and bring to our clients candidates who have the skills and experience, the personal characteristics and traits to be successful in the role they will play, and who will fit seamlessly with the management team. We have a track record of recruiting talent to our clients which prove to be successful both in the short-term and over the longer-term. We work exclusively on a retainer basis as we invest heavily in each project we tackle.


Plummer & Associates focuses on the direct-to-consumer industry serving brick and mortar retailers, ecommerce retailers, food service, hospitality, retail services, mcommerce retailers, catalog retailers, direct sales, and vendors who sell products to these organizations. Our work is in North America and globally. Our work is at the senior executive level or special positions requiring unique skills and experience which justifies the search process.


Plummer & Associates is headquartered in New Canaan, Connecticut. Our web address is: Our blog address is: Our telephone number is: 800 603 9981.



        John Plummer

Plummer & Associates, Inc.


Friday, February 14th, 2014

Lazarus 3 LocationsLazarus 1907 outsideLazarus 1910 OutsideLazarus outside 1960's 1Lazarus outside 1960's 2Lazarus Columbus CampusLazarus Night approx 1910Lazarus first floor book shop Lazarus first floor escalator Lazarus first floor Meens Shoes lazarus First Floor Mens Hats Lazarus first floor Niagra Soda Fountain Lazarus First Floor South Aisle Lazsrus fist floor men's furnishingsLazarus Balcony BirdCageLazarus balcony haircuttingLazarus balcony Ladies Rest RoomLazarus balcony Ladies Rest RoomLazarus Balcony Men's Smoking RoomLazarus Third Floor Baby DepartmentLazarus second floor mens and boysLazarus 3rd floor ladies costume roomLazarus 3rd floor muslin underwear and laides sweatersLazarus 3rd floor Rest RoomLazarus Third Floor Baby DepartmentLazarus Kinderland 2Lazarus Kiinderland 4lazarus kinderland 3Lazarus KinderlandLazarus MillinaryLazarus Third Floor Baby DepartmentLazarus 5th Floor Pavillion RestaurantLazarus BandLazarus Display 1Lazarus Display 2.Lazarus Display 3Lazarus Display 6Lazarus Display 7Lazarus Display 8Lazarus Display 9Lazarus DisplayLazarus S&H StampsLazarus Santa FrontLazarus Santa BackLazarus Santa Wireless


Lazarus, as this department store chain was known, was founded in 1851 by Mr. Simon Lazarus. He had come to Columbus to become a rabbi and ended up opening a small store (one room) on Town Street. At the time, the store only offered menswear.

In 1877, after the death of Simon Lazarus his two sons, Fred and Ralph, took control of the store and started using showmanship to attract customers. For example, in 1890 they contracted with Niagara Soda Fountain to open a shop within the store selling ice cream, ice cream floats and sarsaparilla. After the two brothers took charge, the name was changed to F& R Lazarus.

The store continued to grow so that in 1909 an amazing six story store was built at High and Rich Streets. At 115,000 square feet, it was much larger than needed at the time. However, by 1921 the store was totally occupied and the company was ready for another expansion as it added additional merchandise categories. The company acquired the Columbus theatre to allow for more selling space, making the store the powerhouse retailer in downtown Columbus. At its peak, the store operated buildings covering an entire city block with the main entrance at High and Front Streets.

F & R Lazarus became known for many innovations in the retail industry:

            – One Low Price (no bargaining necessary)

            -First escalators in a department store

            -First air conditioned department store

            -Early adopter of a generous return policy (no questions asked)

The company was known for its social awareness:

            -Became a major employer of women.

            -Became a major employer of physically challenged.

The downtown store was famous for its Christmas activities. It sponsored a major Christmas Parade for the Friday after Thanksgiving Day to compete with the Macy’s Parade in New York City. Elaborate window displays drew major crowds.  A small platform was erected in front of the windows to give children a better view. On the sixth floor, next to the toy department, the auditorium was converted to Christmas scenes and place to meet with Santa.

In 1928, F & R Lazarus acquired the John Shillito Company based in Cincinnati and operated it as a separate business. In 1929, the company worked with Bloomingdale’s (NY), Filene & Sons Co (Boston), and Abraham & Straus (Brooklyn) to form Federated Department Stores.

Lazarus was late to the game in expanding suburban stores, but then it became a powerhouse in the Midwest.

  • The first suburban store was opened in 1962 on West Broad Street in Columbus. At first this store was a failure but became successful as it became a part of Westland Mall.


  • The second suburban store was opened in 1964 in Northland Mall. This store was an immediate success.


  • In 1973, Lazarus expanded outside Ohio with a store in Indianapolis.


  • In 1981, they opened a store in Huntington, West Virginia.


  • In 1986, Lazarus merged with the Shillito’s and Rike’s divisions of Federated Department Stores giving them locations in the Dayton and Cincinnati markets.


  • In 1987, Federated acquired the William H. Block Company in Indianapolis and the Herpolsheimer’s in Grand Rapids from Allied Stores and converted those stores to Lazarus.


  • In 1994, Federated acquired the Joseph Horne Company in Pittsburgh and converted those stores to Lazarus.


  • In 2003, Lazarus stores were combined into Macy’s and co-branded Lazarus Macy’s. That same year, the downtown store in Columbus closed.


  • In 2005, the Lazarus name was erased and all stores became Macy’s.


What happened????

The decline of Lazarus was a result of many reasons:

  • Lazarus had weak leadership in the end. Leadership turnover was high and no one was able to fend off the competition from specialty retailers nor the consumer’s desire to avoid the malls.


  • Lazarus’s expenses were high and kept eroding profitability.


  • The department store segment was consolidating to reduce the expenses of operating separate division headquarters.


  • Department stores were no longer the place for manufactures to showcase their goods. There were too many other retailers available who could offer the manufacturers better business growth with locations more convenient to the consumer and often at prices more advantageous to the consumer.


I know that there are so many of you who have shopped at or worked at F & R Lazarus. I hope you will share your memories with others as you look through these old postcards depicting Lazarus.


Thursday, February 6th, 2014


The demanding retail environment requires executives with higher education. Back in the 1960’s retailers aggressively started recruiting college graduates. In the survey conducted by Plummer & Associates, a New Canaan, Connecticut executive search firm specializing in the retail industry shows 88% of the CEO’s of the top 100 retailers have college degrees. That compares favorably with the 93% of Fortune 500 (all industries) CEO’s. This 88% also compares favorably with the 2008 study of retailers conducted by Plummer & Associates which showed 85% had college degrees and the 2002 study which indicated 60% had college degrees.

Retailers now need to recruit executives with advanced degrees. Of the Fortune 500 CEO’s, 68% have advanced degrees (MA, MS, MBA, Ph.D., JD) while retail only has 35%. Retailers have not made much progress attracting/developing CEO’s with advanced degrees as our studies in 2002 and 2008 show 37% and 29% respectively.


                                                Retailers                                  Fortune

Study Year       2002    2008    2014                500

BA                    60%     85%     88%                 93%

MA+                 37%     29%     35%                 68% (MBA,MA,MS,JD,Phd,etc)

MBA                            23%     29%                 40%

JD                                6%       7%                  

Note: The supermarket industry has the largest population of CEO’s w/o a college degree. This is followed by a group of entrepreneurs who built significant businesses. (i.e. Michael Dell at Dell Computers). The retailers surveyed are the top 100 based upon sales volume and includes those who operate store, catalog, e-commerce, and/or direct sales channels. The Fortune 500 statistics are from US NEWS May 14, 2012.

Retailing is a big part of our economy and the landscape is constantly changing.  Through internal growth and consolidation, the retail industry is now composed of more large national and international chains versus the smaller regional chains which existed up until the 1980’s. As a result, the CEO’s of these large retailers need sophisticated tools to meet the challenges they will face in the near future.

Challenges the industry faces include:

An oversaturation of retail stores. There is too much retail space for our population and too many retailers (including online retailers) are dividing up the sales pie.

Retailers are increasingly international, adding to the complexities of managing the business.

Growing options for the consumer; not only are there retail stores, but also direct sales, catalog retailers, online retailers, and rapid delivery choices that compete for the store customer.

Marketing options are growing. Retailers must keep abreast of new technologies (CRM, Texting, Emails, Twitter, Instagram, Social Media, Direct Mail, Advertising (Print, Broadcast, on line), etc.    Retailers also need to build a brand strategy which is reflected in the facilities, the products carried, the employee service levels and the overall experience in the store. They also need to understand ‘omni-channel’ marketing to ensure that the customer’s brand expectations are consistently met whether through the retail store, the catalog operation, or the e-commerce operation. It is of utmost importance that retailers learn how to segment and target customers and fashion a product assortment, ambiance, and service to meet customer expectations.

Price competition is severe. All channels need to take costs out of their operations so they can be price competitive. Customers will pay more for a product if they perceive a difference in service which is of value to them, but this value needs to be justified by research.

Retailers with stores need to maximize four wall contribution. They will need to ‘right size’ operations. They need to maximize efficiencies of their supply chain operations.

Retailers with stores need to deal with ‘showrooming’. If online customers visit stores to evaluate products, these stores need to capture the sale immediately by having a competitive price and an environment to close the sale.

Retailers need to recruit and develop well-educated talent to make a difference. Talent is needed in merchandising, marketing, supply chain operations, and in the stores to meet customer expectations and to minimize costs.

Plummer & Associates is  a highly respected boutique executive search firm which specializes in recruiting senior level executives for the direct-to-consumer industry (retail, retail services, direct marketing and sales, e-commerce, catalog, food service, and businesses which sell to this industry segment). Based in New Canaan, Connecticut, Plummer & Associates conducts assignments in the U.S. and globally. For more information: or contact John Plummer: Phone:  (800) 603 9981.

Plummer & Associates Recruits President for Viva International Based in Somerville, New Jersey

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Plummer & Associates has completed the assignment to recruit the President for Viva International. Mr. Antonia Bortuzzo has accepted the role and will lead this Somerville, New Jersey eyewear manufacturer and distributor. Viva International Group is a global leader in high-quality, fashion eyewear. Its portfolio ranges from accessible luxury brands GANT by Michael Bastian and GUESS by Marciano, to fashion and lifestyle brands BONGO®, CANDIE’S®, Catherine Deneuve, GANT, GANT Rugger, GUESS, Harley-Davidson®, RAMPAGE®, SKECHERS and William Rast, and value names Viva, Magic Clip®, and Savvy.


Most recently, Antonio Bortuzzo was chief executive officer (CEO) of Alain Mikli International Group in Paris. Mikli designs, manufactures and distributes ophthalmic frames and

sunwear, and has retail stores worldwide. Previously, he was the CEO of fashion optical eyewear wholesaler Allison S.p.A. in Padova, Italy, and, from 2002-2007 he was the CEO and general manager of Marcolin Group, Belluno as well as CEO of Marcolin, U.S. in Scottsdale, Ariz.


Susan Gill and I are pleased we were once again able to bring such high caliber talent to Viva International and similar high growth organizations. Over the past few months we have recruited the General Manager – International for Viva International based in the U.K., the General Manager – Canada, and the Senior Vice President – Sales for Viva in the U.S. This demonstrates our abilities to conduct international search assignments for our clients.

Plummer & Associates Recruit CAO/CFO To Charming Charlie

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Plummer & Associates recruited the EVP-CAO/CFO to Charming Charlie, the high-growth retailer of women’s accessories based in Houston, Texas.

Mr. Thomas Fitzgerald joined and reports to Mr. Charlie Chanaratsopon , the Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Previously, Tom was the Chief Administrative Officer for Sears Canada based in Toronto. Earlier in his career he had been Chief Executive Officer for Lucky Brand Jeans, and Chief Operating Officer for Bath & Body Works.



Saturday, January 14th, 2012

I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Premier for Red Tails, the new movie by George Lucas.

This movie about the Tuskegee Airmen in World War 2 is American history at its finest!  It is also an enjoyable movie.

I have been lucky to have known George since childhood and have always been proud of his accomplishments. This movie and the related show on the History Channel is his giveback to our society. My heart pitter pats.



Friday, December 9th, 2011


A T STEWART & COMPANY – NYC – (stereoview card – prior to postcards)


Alexander Turney Stewart, an Irish immigrant, opened his dry goods store in 1823. The first store was located at 283 Broadway. The business became so successful he opened a second, much larger store on Broadway between Chambers and Reade Streets. This new store was, in fact, the largest in New York City. It was known as the Marble Palace as the building was clad in Tuckahoe marble. Lord & Taylor which operated out of a small store in Greenwich Village was its only competitor. The store sold imported European merchandise. Fashion shows were held on the second floor in the Ladies Parlor renowned for its large mirrors. The store became well known for its unique design and for the merchandise carried. This store is today known as the first department store in the U.S.

In 1860, Mr. Stewart built a new store further uptown on Broadway between 9th and 10th Streets which opened in 1862. This store was still larger and much closer to where the other stores had moved on the Ladies Mile (Macy’s, B. Altman, Lord & Taylor). Cast iron construction allowed the store to be more open and provided for large windows on the street level to showcase merchandise. The building was called the Iron Palace.

Besides being known as the creator of the first department store in the U.S., Mr. Stewart also became known for creating his own mills and sewing factories to produce product for his store. He gained more fame for laying out the plan for Garden City on Long Island.

Alexander Stewart died in 1876. His company continued in business until 1882 when it became Hilton, Hughes & Co run by associates of Mr. Stewart. Unfortunately, the new company failed and closed in August, 1896. The next month the store was acquired by Wannamaker’s from Philadelphia.

Wanamaker’s first building at 280 Broadway later became the headquarters for the New York Sun, the publisher of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”. The building is now owned by the City of New York. The Iron Palace burned down in a massive fire in the 1950’s when it operated as a John Wannamaker store.

The first department store in the world is the Au Bon Marche in Paris, France. Although A. T. Stewart’s first store opened before Au Bon Marche, his first store was small and was not considered a department store in terms of organization.

Although there are many block prints of the A. T. Stewart store, there are few postcards. The store existed before postcards became legal with the U.S. Postal Service.

A T Stewart Home – Fifth Avenue – NYC