Neiman Marcus CEO Van Raemdonck Answers ‘Why New York City?' as Store Prepares to Open

When Neiman Marcus opens its first store in Manhattan on Friday, chief executive officer Geoffroy van Raemdonck will be there greeting customers.“You can only fully appreciate and measure the opportunities to do better if you are on the floor,” van Raemdonck said.Neiman Marcus is the anchor tenant of the Shops at Hudson Yards, a seven-level vertical mall that opens Friday on the Lower West Side. The $25 billion project is the largest private real estate development in U.S. history and the most ambitious since the famed Rockefeller Center was built during the depression in the 1930s.It’s a bold undertaking that van Raemdonck inherited when he became CEO almost 14 months ago, but he’s embraced it. The 156,000-square-foot, three-level Neiman Marcus has views of a new 5-acre park and a 16-story sculpture called the Vessel, a honeycomb spiral staircase that’s meant to be climbed.“We have a goal for the store, but the bigger goal is to increase our sales in the New York market,” van Raemdonck said. “I will be equally pleased if it helps online sales grow much, much faster.”In the new digital world of metrics, stores often gravitate to where their online customers have already revealed themselves. New York City residents’ online purchases at NeimanMarcus.com are $100 million. That doubles to $200 million with online sales from the greater metro area. Add four suburban stores, the most recent opened in 2016 at Roosevelt Field mall on Long Island, and the company’s total New York region sales more than double again.“When you already have half a billion dollars in sales in a market, you have a great start,” van Raemdonck said. But it’s not without risk.Neiman Marcus chose to be part of a new neighborhood, he said. “It does have an element of unpredictability, and we will learn from it,” he said. “The retailer of the future is the one who is closest to the customers, who is trying what the customer wants, who is not arrogant to think they have the answers, but is humble to listen.”Van Raemdonck uses the phrase “customer-centric organization” a lot. To him, it’s what Neiman Marcus has been throughout its history, from being the first in 1926 to offer weekly in-store fashion shows to being the first in 1999 to move luxury shopping online.The company has $1.8 billion sales online, the largest luxury platform in the U.S, he said, with $1 billion of those sales from NeimanMarcus.com.Neiman Marcus Group also owns the ultra-luxury Bergdorf Goodman department store, which operates in two buildings on 5th Avenue and does “very, very well” under president Darcy Penick, van Raemdonck said. The company doesn’t break out sales, but based on what it has said in filings, Bergdorf Goodman has annual sales of about $700 million.When asked about the two sister brands occupying the same market, van Raembdonck said he believes they complement each other.“There’s a customer that has an affinity for what Bergdorf Goodman has to offer and a customer that has an affinity for what Neiman Marcus has to offer. And there’s a very large share that has an affinity for both.”  Continue reading...

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