The chairman of R. H. Macy & Co. sought Wednesday to soothe anxious employees at Bullock's downtown Los Angeles headquarters but nonetheless indicated that layoffs are in the offing after the companies merge.
In afternoon meetings with buyers, Edward S. Finkelstein confirmed that merchandising for the 22-store chain will shift to Macy's Atlanta division beginning Aug. 1.
At that time, he told employees, Bullock's current buying staff of more than 100 will be broken up into three smaller regional staffs in South Coast Plaza, downtown and Sherman Oaks, consisting of 20 or so buyers per group. Each staff will be responsible for limited buying for its geographic area and will answer to Atlanta. More than 100 assistant buyer positions are to be eliminated, employees said.
A Negative Feeling
Finkelstein maintained to the 60 or so employees in each meeting that Macy's expects to eliminate only 20% of the 1,000 jobs at Bullock's headquarters.
"We still don't know how he's coming up with the cuts," said one buyer who asked to remain anonymous. "The feeling was definitely negative walking out of there."
At the meetings, Finkelstein derided press coverage that he said has painted a picture of Macy's riding roughshod over Bullock's. Macy's is buying the chain, along with Bullocks Wilshire and I. Magnin, for $1.1 billion from Campeau Corp. once that company's takeover of Federated Department Stores is complete, probably early next week.
"He tried to tell us he didn't want this to be viewed as a hostile takeover," one buyer said. Finkelstein also indicated that the months ahead would be a time of great change and that "if you're a person who can't handle change, this might not be a good time to stay with Macy's,' " the employee added.
Severance Pay Assured
Finkelstein, Macy's President Mark S. Handler and other officials are expected to meet today with Bullocks Wilshire personnel and then individually with Bullock's headquarters workers over the next two to three weeks.
Finkelstein said in an interview Monday that he expects many of them to be offered jobs in Atlanta or at Macy's California in San Francisco.
Employees said Wednesday that they came away with the impression that anyone interested in advancement in the Macy's organization would be obliged to move to Atlanta if a job were offered. They also said Finkelstein vowed to honor the policy of severance pay should employees leave.