This power consolidation happened when Thomas L. Cole retired as chief administrative officer following a 41-year career at Macy's (and companies that Macy's acquired). That gave Macy's the ability to promote Robert B. "RB" Harrison from EVP for omnichannel strategy to his new chief role.
"Among his duties, Tom has been responsible for systems and logistics for many years. As Tom's duties were re-assigned, it was decided that systems and logistics fit best under R.B. Harrison, given the increasing omnichannel nature of our business," said Jim Sluzewski, Macy's SVP of corporate communications. "In that process, R.B. was promoted to a chief and he joined the company's executive committee. Tom's retirement was the trigger point."
Harrison will now report directly to Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren. He had been reporting to Cole.
From the Macy's statement: "In addition to his existing role managing the development of strategies to closely integrate the company's stores, online and mobile activities, Harrison will assume responsibility for systems and technology, logistics and related operating functions."
This change is important in that it sends—or perhaps we should say reinforces—a message supporting the merged-channel strategy that Macy's has been pushing for years. This type of corporate consolidation is critical, because it gives one executive the ability to set policy for almost all the units that have to come together to make merged channels truly work.
One nitpick, though. It's hard to take Macy's merged-channel strategy too seriously as long as it sticks with the strange omnichannel term. It sounds like something that should be next to the Syfy Channel on a cable box, perhaps as the cable division for Omni Magazine.