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It's On! Macy's vs. Martha & JCP
By: Maryann Fabian
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Oh, this is getting good. Better than any Housewives show or soap opera, the best daytime drama around these days is happening in the courtroom of the Macy’s/Martha Stewart/JC Penney case. To catch you up to speed, Macy’s filed a lawsuit against Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and JCP to stop her line of housewares and bedding from being sold at the competing retailer. If you were expecting insight into the carefully thought-out-and-planned, strategic business decisions that guide some of our country’s most historied shopping destinations, well, you’re in the wrong place.

Where else can you hear such delicious morsels as Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren saying that the only person he ever hung up on was Martha after she told him she was selling her goods at JCP and he hasn’t spoken to her since? Or that it gave him a tummy ache to know his former friend had betrayed him? “I’m sick,” Terry said in an email to chief marketing officer Martine Reardon. “I’m finding myself upset right now as I talk about it,” he emoted on the stand.

JCP wasn’t aiming for the stomach, we learned. “Terry might have a headache tonight,” CEO Ron Johnson wrote to his staff when the Martha deal was announced. And, “We put Terry in a corner,” he told top investor William Ackman. “

Could it be that Martha “was not happy” with the VIP tickets she was given to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade last year (which occurred right before she struck the deal with JCP)? Martine testified that she was not seated in the same section as other celebs, such as Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. And Martha’s CFO, Ken West, who wanted to participate in the parade, “was told he couldn’t handle the (Spider-Man) balloon.”

Bam! Out of spite (or “pure coincidence” as a Macy’s spokesperson put it), Macy’s just tossed Emeril Lagasse cookware out of its 800 stores as of Tuesday. (Martha owns Emeril’s line, too, in case you didn’t know.)

Then Matt Lauer took a pot shot at Martha: “If you said, ‘Matt, I’m going to do...all my cooking segments with you on the ‘Today’ show, but I’m going to go to ‘CBS This Morning’ and do all of my decorating segments, I think that hurts me,” he said Wednesday morning.

All this bickering over a few fingertip towels and muffin tins? Both CEOs agreed that the home business in general rings up few sales per square foot. Terry said that it was the “least profitable part of the store.” But Martha is (was?) the biggest vendor in Macy’s home store and he admits that he has nothing lined up to replace her.
Ron, on the other hand, is hoping Martha will help turn around JCP’s misery. Now, JCP’s woes go far beyond this lawsuit. In fact, Ron may be heading for the door after announcing last week that he made a few “mistakes” in trying to bring a little “Apple magic.” Oh, and the company lost $4.28 BILLION in sales, down 31.7 percent in store and 34.4 percent online, which is really mind boggling. Oopsie. 

Who knows how this snarky tale will end. It’s just sad to see the wellbeing of thousands upon thousands of employees taken for granted, as well as the legacy of some beloved brands, over the bruising of a few egos at the top.

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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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