In an effort to maximize the value of its store properties, Macy’s has appointed Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) expert William Lenehan to its Board of Directors, effective April 1, 2016. Lenehan is presently the President and CEO of Four Corners Property Trust, an investment trust firm that focuses on food service real estate.
Lenehan has served in numerous real estate positions prior to his time at Four Corners, including:
Special advisor to the board of EVOQ Properties, Inc., owner of a substantial portfolio of development assets in Los Angeles;
Interim CEO of real estate operator MI Development (now known as Granite Real Estate Investment Trust); and
Investment professional at global asset management firm Farallon Capital Management LLC.
With sales declining and the retailer closing as many as 40 stores in 2016, executives at Macy’s are desperately seeking ways to make money off their properties.
Upon purchasing an undisclosed stake in the retailer in July 2015, activist investor group Starboard Value encouraged Macy’s to spin off its real estate into another investment vehicle. Although the retailer initially concluded that converting stores into an REIT did not have an upside due to lesser control over the stores and higher rent expenses, Macy’s has still deliberated the benefits of a potential spinoff.
There is precedent here, as major retailers such as Sears and Hudson’s Bay Company split off significant portions of their stores in joint ventures with mall operators. However, CEO Terry Lundgren has yet to commit to the idea just yet, Lenehan’s appointment notwithstanding.
“We will always be a retailer first. And that’s our primary business,” Lundgren said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer and Retail Technology Conference. “That’s what we do, that’s what we know. This is going to be another set of expertise here that’s going to add value to what we already do as a retailer. But we’re very excited about the potential there.”