Jana Partners Cuts Stake in Macy’s by 84%


Activist investment firm Jana Partners reduced its stake in Macy’s by 84% in the final months of last year, soon after imploring the retailer to separate its eCommerce operations from its brick-and-mortar business.

According to a report by Reuters Monday (Feb. 14), Jana said in a regulatory filing that it owned 760,780 shares of Macy’s at the end of 2021, compared to 4.6 million months earlier. Last fall, Jana owned 1.5% of Macy’s, the report said.

Reuters notes that this type of filing can signal investment trends or indicate what high-profile firms such as Jana Partners are thinking. The firm declined to comment.

Read more: Customers’ Use of Physical Stores Makes Macy’s Online Split More Challenging

As we reported in October of last year, Jana began pushing Macy’s to separate its $8 billion eCommerce business from its traditional stores, arguing the eCommerce side of the company could be worth far more.

Last February, Macy’s projected its eCommerce business would hit $10 billion by next year and told investors it sees itself as a “digitally-led, omnichannel retailer” and that last year would be a year of “recovery and rebuilding.”

In December of 2021, Macy’s began discussions with consulting firm AlixPartners, which had previously worked with Saks Fifth Avenue owner HBC on separating its eCommerce operations from its physical stores.

As we noted then, Macy’s situation is a bit more precarious than Saks, as it has a larger physical presence, and its eCommerce customers visit retail locations for pickups and returns. Macy’s online sales are two to three times higher per capita where its 800 stores are located.

Learn more: Breaking Up Kohl’s Is About Valuation, Not Excellent Omnichannel Retail Execution

December also saw another activist investor, Engine Capital, push to have department store chain Kohl’s spin off its digital assets from its physical stores — or sell the company outright.

“We also believe Kohl’s has a unique retail footprint relative to many mall-based retailers, as well as a growing eCommerce presence, strong loyalty program, tremendous free cash flow and valuable real estate holdings,” Engine said in a statement last year. “However, much to our disappointment, these considerable assets and operating tailwinds continue to fail to catalyze meaningful value for shareholders.”