Macy's on Tuesday announced that Paula Price, executive vice president and chief financial officer, "has made the decision to leave the company as of May 31."
Price, who arrived from Harvard Business School in 2018, will stay on as an adviser to the company through November "in order to support a well-ordered transition," Macy's said.
An external search is underway for Price's replacement, according to a company press release.
Price was a major fixture during Macy's extensive presentation earlier this year on its rebooted "Polaris" turnaround plans. Not only is she not sticking around to see that through, she's also leaving amid an industry-wide crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the temporary closure of nearly every store in the country, including all of Macy's 775 or so locations, which has stressed its finances and threatened its operations.
"Paula remains a critical part of our plan, and while I respect her decision, I also appreciate the long runway she is giving us for this transition," Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette said in part in a statement Tuesday, noting that Price "has built a strong finance leadership team, and we are fortunate to have a very deep bench to draw on to ensure a smooth transition."
The retailer last month furloughed most of its 125,000-strong workforce and temporarily cut executive pay, including Gennette's salary. Macy's also said then that all its Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Bluemercury, Backstage, Bloomingdale's The Outlet and Market by Macy's stores will remain closed "until we have clear line of sight on when it is safe to reopen."
If the timing of Price's departure seems awkward, it could be because the pandemic has thrown a wrench into the department store's plans, according to Jonathan Treiber, CEO of RevTrax. "I would venture a guess that Paula Price joined Macy's in 2018 to play a key transformation role in the company's long-awaited turn around," he told Retail Dive in an email. "My thought is that Macy's may need a different type of CFO going forward to help them manage the crisis and potentially manage the winding down of the legacy department store business as we know it."
As part of its planned "Polaris" turnabout, several stores are slated to close permanently, and about 2,000 workers were already laid off in plans to reduce Macy's "corporate and support function headcount" by 9%. The company previously announced the closure of 125 underperforming stores over the next three years, 29 of which had already been announced for this year.
The strategy also entails abandoning Macy's Cincinnati headquarters and maintaining a sole head office in New York City, home to its Herald Square flagship. All told, the moves should generate annual gross savings of about $1.5 billion, fully realized by year-end 2022.