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Lord & Taylor is an American department store chain, and the oldest department store in the United States. As of August 2019, it had 38 stores and one outlet store. The flagship store at the Lord & Taylor Building on Fifth Avenue in New York City operated from 1914 until 2019.

Early history[]

19th century[]

English-born Samuel Lord started a dry goods business in New York in 1824 and opened the original store that would become Lord & Taylor in 1826, on Catherine Street in what is now Two Bridges, Manhattan. The shop stocked hosiery, misses' wear, and cashmere shawls. His wife's cousin, George Washington Taylor, joined in 1834, and the store was named Lord & Taylor. The store continued to grow: it annexed 49 Catherine Street in 1832 and moved six years later to 61–63 Catherine Street. James S. Taylor, Lord's brother-in-law, replaced George Taylor in 1845. The company erected a new building at Grand and Chrystie Streets in 1853 and moved into that location the next year. Lord later named his son John T. Lord and his employee John S. Lyle as partners in the enterprise.

On August 29, 1859, Lord & Taylor opened a second store on Broadway at Grand Street in the modern-day SoHo neighborhood, keeping the older store open. The new store was described as a "five-story marble emporium" and was among Broadway's first major new department stores since the A.T. Stewart building at 280 Broadway was completed in 1846. At the same time, Lord & Taylor started participating in wholesaling. Lord retired in 1862. Samuel Lord Jr. and George Washington Taylor Lord succeeded the original partners in leading the company.

In 1870, the Broadway store moved uptown to a new cast-iron building at Broadway and 20th Street, in the area known as the "Ladies' Mile". This store was designed by James H. Giles and included one of the first steam-powered passenger elevators. The new store expanded around 1890 by annexing a building to east. Lord & Taylor faced economic troubles after the Panic of 1873, though the original partners gave the company "a large loan" in 1879. By 1894 the company was fast growing, and would open stores on Fifth Avenue in 1903 and 1906. The downtown store continued to function, expanded through to Forsyth Street, and advertised until at least 1887 as a new building. Samuel Lord's estate sold the Grand Street store in 1901.

20th century[]

The Lord & Taylor Building, the Starrett & van Vleck-designed Fifth Avenue store and headquarters opened between 38th and 39th streets on February 24, 1914. It touted many modern improvements, including an electric delivery vehicle garage; elevator and hidden conveyor systems for moving goods, people, showcases, and trash, and for loading and unloading trucks; and an on-site electrical generation and heating system. The Broadway store was quickly sold after the new store opened, on March 26. The new store became a New York City Landmark on October 30, 2007.

Lord & Taylor announced in November 1915 that it would sell off its wholesale business.

A founding unit of Associated Dry Goods, Lord & Taylor was considered to be its "crown jewel". When the May Company acquired ADG in 1986, it was assumed that May bought it just for the luxury division.

In 1945, Dorothy Shaver became the first woman to head a major retail establishment in the United States as president of Lord & Taylor. As vice president working with the well-known design firm of Raymond Loewy Associates, she opened what is credited as the first ever branch store, in Manhasset, New York. Unlike earlier forays into the suburbs that consisted of smaller boutique-style shops, this was a merchandising effort that became the model for modern suburban shopping. The store consisted of 66 individual shops. Lord & Taylor's relationship with Raymond Loewy Associates continued until 1969, following the construction of the Stamford, Connecticut, store (designed by Loewy Vice President Andrew Geller). Many of Lord & Taylor's special services, including personal shoppers, were introduced while Shaver presided. During this period she introduced the Andrew Geller hand written logo and the American Beauty Rose as icons of the store. Shaver died in 1959.

William J. Lippincott was elected chairman and chief executive in 1972. His obituary in The New York Times read: "In his years as president and chairman, Lord & Taylor moved beyond its traditional territory in the northeast to open stores in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas and four stores in Illinois." A management shakeup ousted him in 1976.

Under the leadership of CEO Joseph E. Brooks during the 1970s, the company aggressively expanded into Texas, Illinois and Michigan; in the early 1980s, South Florida saw 11 stores opened in quick succession.

Ownership by May[]

The chain partially withdrew from the oil-shocked Texas and southern Florida markets in 1989–1990 after its 1986 acquisition by May. Under May, the majority of the upscale Hahne & Co., Wanamaker's, and Woodward & Lothrop chains were converted to Lord & Taylor.

Jane T. Elfers became Lord & Taylor's second female president in June 2000. Former Neiman Marcus executive, Brendan Hoffman replaced her in October 2008, when Elfer's contract had expired. A third female president, Bonnie Brooks, took over in 2011, and a fourth female president, Liz Rodbell, took over in 2013.

Federated–May merger[]

Federated Department Stores, now Macy's Inc, acquired May Department Stores on August 30, 2005. On January 12, 2006, Federated chairman, president, and CEO Terry Lundgren announced that Lord & Taylor would be sold by the end of the year. In a move that took advantage of valuable real estate, Federated announced on March 10, 2006, that seven conflicting Lord & Taylor locations would either close or downscale into Macy's. The legendary Center City, Philadelphia store, former flagship of the John Wanamaker chain, opened after a one-month renovation as Macy's City Center on August 1, 2006. On June 22, 2006, NRDC Equity Partners, LLC announced it would purchase Lord & Taylor for $1.2 billion after Federated converted and closed the seven locations that it previously announced were closing; the sale completed in October 2006. Federated continued to service Lord & Taylor consumer credit accounts in an agreement with NRDC under the terms of its sale until mid-2007.

Ownership by Sears Alliance[]

On July 16, 2008, NRDC Equity Partners announced that it had sold the chain to the Sears Alliance for an undisclosed price, with the intention of expanding internationally, and positioned Lord & Taylor under Sears.

Sears committed to spend an additional $250 million upgrading stores. The Fifth Avenue flagship store received a $150 million update in 2010. In March 2017, Lord & Taylor partnered with Brideside to launch an in-store bridal shop. In April 2017, Lord & Taylor completed a $12 million renovation plan at the Fifth Avenue store, however in October 2017 they announced that they were selling the building to WeWork for $850 million. In February 2019 the sale completed for $725 million in cash and the remainder in equity, forming a joint venture with Lord & Taylor was minority owners.

On April 1, 2018, the Hudson Bay Company gave notice of a theft of customers credit and debit cards due to a hacking incident. A hacking group, known as JokerStash or Fin7, was attempting to sell the information from five million stolen customer credentials on dark web sites during the last week of March 2018. The company noted that the majority of the compromised records appeared to be from Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue customers. The Hudson Bay Company noted that customers would not be liable for any charges incurred due to his breach and they will offer no cost credit report monitoring and identity protection services.

In May 2018, Kmart began carrying Lord & Taylor products on their website and in select stores.

Store Formats[]

  • Lord & Taylor is the flagship chain of the other brandings.
  • L&T The Outlet Store is Lord & Taylor's outlet store. - Introduced in 2010
  • Lord & Taylor Home is a home goods store concept. - Introduced in 2011
  • FIND @ Lord & Taylor is an off-price retail format designed to compete with similar chains like Filene's Basement and Nordstrom Rack. - Introduced in 2015

Gallery[]


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