The May Department Stores Company

The May Department Stores Company
The May Department Stores Company
Industry Retail
Fate Merged with Federated Department Stores, Inc.
Successor Federated Department Stores, Inc. (2005-2006) Macy's, Inc. (2007-present)
Founded 1877
Defunct 2005
Headquarters Leadville, Colorado (1877-1888)
Denver, Colorado (1888-1905)
St. Louis, Missouri (1905-2005)
Key people David May (founder)
Morton May (chairman, 1951-1967)
Products Clothing
Beauty products
Subsidiaries Famous-Barr
The Jones Store
Lord & Taylor
L.S. Ayres
Marshall Field's
Meier & Frank
May Cohens/May Florida
May Company Cleveland

The May Department Stores Company was a national department store chain in the United States, founded in 1877 by David May.[1] The company ceased to exist in 2005 when it was merged with Federated Department Stores, Inc (now known as Macy's, Inc.). Prior to the merger it was headquartered in Downtown St. Louis, Missouri.[2] The business has never had any connection with the May's department stores in and around New York City which were owned and operated by J.W. Mays.



Founding and early years

  • 1877: Founded in Leadville during the Colorado silver rush.
  • 1889: Headquarters moved to Denver.
  • 1905: Headquarters moved to St. Louis.[3]
  • 1910: Officially incorporated as The May Department Stores Company.[3]

Early expansions

  • 1911: The Famous Clothing Store (owned by May) and The William Barr Dry Goods Company merged to create Famous-Barr.[3]
  • 1923: May acquires A. Hamburger & Sons Company in Los Angeles and renames it as May Company California.
  • 1946: May acquires the Kaufmann's chain based in Pittsburgh, retaining it as a separate division.[3]
  • 1947: May acquires Strouss-Hirshberg Co. based in Youngstown, OH, retaining it as a separate division and changing the name to Strouss.[4]
  • 1956: May acquires The Daniels & Fisher Company of Denver, merging it with May stores in the area to create a new May D&F division.[5]
  • 1958: May acquires the Cohen Bros. Department Store in Jacksonville, Florida, turning it into the May Cohens chain.[6]
  • 1959: May acquires The Hecht Company of Baltimore, adding it as a new division.[5]
  • 1966: May acquires the Meier & Frank chain based in Portland, Oregon, adding it as a new division.[5]
  • David's grandson Morton May became the chairman in 1951 and headed the company for 16 years. Morton May was active in St. Louis civic affairs and was a patron of the St. Louis Art Museum.
  • Venture Stores was founded in 1968 when Target co-founder John F. Geisse went to work for May Department Stores.[2] Under an antitrust settlement reached with the Department of Justice, May was unable to acquire any more retail chains at the time, and the department store company needed a way to compete against the emerging discount store chains.

Late expansions

Final years

  • 2005: May is purchased by Federated Department Stores for $11 billion in stock, with all former May divisions being folded into Federated's various Macy's branches.[10][11]
  • 2006: Over 400 former May stores, with their wide variety of long-standing brand names, are consolidated and renamed as Macy's. In addition, Federated sells off three former May chains (David's Bridal, Lord & Taylor and Priscilla of Boston).[10]

Merger of Federated and May

On February 28, 2005, Federated Department Stores, Inc. announced that they would acquire the May company in a deal that would create the nation's second largest department store chain with over 1,000 stores and $30 billion in annual sales. To help finance the May Company deal, Federated agreed to sell its combined proprietary credit card business to Citigroup as well as May's bridalwear business.

The Federated/May merger was completed on August 30, 2005 after an assurance agreement was reached with the State Attorneys General of New York, California, Massachusetts, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Federated announced plans to close 76 store locations over the ensuing year, having pledged in its anti-trust settlement to sell most of them in the above mentioned states as viable businesses, with preference being given to a group of thirteen competitors.

By September 2006, all of the May regional nameplates, except for the Lord & Taylor chain, ceased to exist as Federated consolidated its operations under the Macy's mastheads including the stores most famous names Marshall Field's, Filene's, and Kaufmann's. All locations that were not sold off were rebranded as Macy's, except for one Hecht's location in Friendship Heights. That was rebuilt,and rebranded as Bloomingdale's. In advance of the retail consolidation, May's credit call center in Lorain, Ohio, ceased operations on July 1, 2006. Lord & Taylor, the lone department store division not to be largely converted to the Macy's nameplate, was sold to a group of investors at NRDC Equity Partners, LLC for $1.2 billion in October 2006. David's Bridal and After Hours Formalwear were also soon sold thereafter.

Historical department stores incorporated into May Company


External links

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