The May Department Stores Company

This article is about the former store holding company that merged with Federated Department Stores, Inc. For the related Southern California based department stores, see May Company California. For the unrelated Mays department stores in New York City, see J.W. Mays.
The May Department Stores Company
Industry Retail
Fate Merged with Federated Department Stores, Inc.
Successor Macy's Inc
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)
Eugene S. Kahn (CEO, 1998-2005)
Products Clothing, footwear, accessories, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares
Subsidiaries Famous-Barr
The Jones Store
Lord & Taylor
L.S. Ayres
Marshall Field's
Meier & Frank
May Cohens/May Florida
O'Neil's (M. O'Neil Co.)
May Company Cleveland

The May Department Stores Company was an American department store holding company, formerly headquartered in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.[1] It was founded by David May in 1877,[2] and merged with Federated Department Stores (now Macy's, Inc.) in 2005.

This company was only a holding company that bought, sold, and merged regional department stores, such as Foley's and L.S. Ayres. During most of its history, the operations of the various divisions were kept separate and had their own buyers and credit cards, which were not accepted at other May owned stores. There were times in which two different May's own stores had operated in the same geographical market but were aimed at different customers. Most decisions for each of the regional store companies were made by management at the local headquarters and not by the holding company in St. Louis.

Some of the regional stores shared names that were similar to the parent company, such as Los Angeles based May Company California, but all it had in common with parent was that they were headed by a different member of the May family as the president of their respective regional store chain and were separate legal entities.


Christmas advertisement for Hamburger's Department Store, Los Angeles, 1905

May Centers

The company previously developed malls under the name May Centers, Inc. The first shopping center that May Department Stores developed was an opened-air shopping center that first opened in 1947 that later became the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles.[13]

During the mid-1980s, the company noticed that their company's stock was vastly undervalued and that the company was at risk of becoming a hostile takeover target,[14][15] May Department Stores needed to re-purchase some of its company's stock to push the share price up. To accomplish this task, they needed to get much cash quickly, which they did by making a deal with Prudential Insurance in which the insurance company gave May $550 million in exchange for 50% ownership of May Centers.[16][17] In 1992, Prudential purchased the rest of May Centers and renamed the company CenterMark.[17][18] The following year Prudential sold the company to a consortium that was composed of General Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust in Des Moines; Westfield Holdings Ltd. of Australia; and Whitehall Street Real Estate L.P. III, an investment partnership formed by Goldman, Sachs & Co.[19][20] In 1996, General Growth sold its share to Westfield, which enabled Westfield to add these properties to its existing collection of properties.[21]

The majority of the properties that were initially developed by May had become very successful and had become a part of Westfield and remain so as of January 2016. However, not all of the original May properties were sold to Westfield and a few properties that Westfield did purchased were later sold.

Laurel Plaza is a special case. At the time of the sale of May Centers, Laurel Plaza also housed the headquarters for May Company California in addition to a regional store, so May Department Stores kept this piece of property. May was trying to enlarge this mall in 1988.[22] Because of damage incurred during the 1994 Northridge earthquake, May and its successor Macy's were unable to dispose of the property until 2014.[23]

Westfield disposed of most of its St. Louis area malls by selling them to Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties. St. Clair Square was sold in 1996.[24] Mid-Rivers Mall, South County Center, and West County Center were sold in 2007.[25]

In 2006, Westfield sold four former May Center malls to Australia-based Centro.[26] These properties include Eagle Rock Plaza, Enfield Mall, West Park Mall, and Westland Towne Centre. Economically, these locations were not performing as well as they should.[27] In 2012, Madison Marquette Retail Services was hired to manage these properties.[28]

In November 2015, Westfield sold Westfield Carlsbad, formerly Plaza Camino Real, to Rouse Properties.[29]

Some of the malls that May built included:

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, as well as the last nameplate to still have the May name (Robinson's-May). 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.


  1. "Federated and May Announce Merger; $17 billion transaction to create value for customers, shareholders. Archived May 23, 2014, at the Wayback Machine." Business Wire. February 28, 2005. Retrieved on August 19, 2009.
  2. The Drive to Differentiate - Macy's, Inc Archived April 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. 1 2 3 4 The Drive to Differentiate - Macy's, Inc Archived March 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. 1 2 3 The Drive to Differentiate - Macy's, Inc Archived March 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. "50 years ago this week". Financial News & Daily Record. November 24, 2008.
  6. Sweetman, Keri; Harrington, Denise (18 November 1981). "600 to lose jobs as Bay closes Shop-Rite stores". Ottawa Citizen. p. 3.
  7. The Drive to Differentiate - Macy's, Inc Archived March 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Foley's INTERVIEW Newsletter, Vol. 19, No. 6 January/February 2006
  9. 1 2 3 The Drive to Differentiate - Macy's, Inc Archived March 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. |title=32 The May Department Stores Company to Acquire David's Bridal, Inc. |website= PR Newswire |date= July 3, 2000 Archived October 26, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. 1 2 3 The Drive to Differentiate - Macy's, Inc Archived January 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. Sorkin, Andrew Ross; Rozhon, Tracie (February 28, 2005). "2 Big Retailers Agree To Merge For $11 Billion". New York Times.
  13. Folkart, Burt A. (April 23, 1992). "David May II; Scion Helped Family Store Chain Grow". Los Angeles Times.
  14. Barmash, Isadore (July 20, 1984). "May Stores As A Target". New York Times.
  15. "May Stores Stock Purchased The May Department Stores Company, which has been a rumored takeover target, said the Crown Books Corporation and certain affiliates had purchased fewer than 1 percent of May's common shares. James Abrams, vice president for corporate communications, said, however, We don't know of any interest by Crown to purchase more of May's shares.". New York Times. February 2, 1985.
  16. Keppel, Bruce (August 18, 1988). "$550-Million Deal to Help May Stores Fend Off Takeovers". Los Angeles Times.
  17. 1 2 Apodaca, Patrice (August 4, 1992). "Making Over Topanga Plaza : Retail: The successful Woodland Hills center undergoes a $45-million renovation now rather than suffer a possible dip in sales.". Los Angeles Times.
  18. "May Centers now called CenterMark". Southeast Missourian. May 3, 1992. p. 1D.
  19. Mills, Joshua (November 4, 1993). "Prudential Will Sell Centermark". New York Times.
  20. "Prudential Selling Its Interest in 19 Malls, 9 in Southland". Los Angeles Times. November 4, 1993.
  21. Ziemba, Stanley (June 29, 1996). "General Growth Sells Stake". Chicago Tribune.
  22. 1 2 Pyle, Amy (April 29, 1988). "N. Hollywood Partnership Buying Land for Huge Mall". Los Angeles Times.
  23. 1 2 Vincent, Roger (January 12, 2014). "Laurel Plaza shopping center in North Hollywood is sold". Los Angeles Times.
  24. "Chattanooga developer buying St. Clair Square". St. Louis Business Journal. November 3, 1996.
  25. "CBL closes on $1B purchase of four area malls". St. Louis Business Journal. October 17, 2007.
  26. Heschmeyer, Mark (May 11, 2006). "Australian Firm To Buy a Half Billion in Westfield Malls: Centro Watt Enters Mall Business; US Platform Positioned To Continue Growth". CoStar Group.
  27. "$240Mln Mall-Portfolio Loan Moved to Special Servicing". Commercial Real Estate Direct. May 27, 2014.
  28. Miller, Melissa (April 30, 2012). "Progress continues with Isle of Capri casino construction". Southeast Missourian.
  29. Showley, Roger (November 4, 2015). "Westfield selling Carlsbad mall". San Diego Union-Tribune.
  30. "La Jolla Mall Completed". Los Angeles Times. November 4, 1979. p. H27. (subscription required (help)). The $10-million, 212,000-square-foot La Jolla Village Mall has been completed. May Co. has opened a two-story, 173,000-square-foot department store... designed by Charles Kober and Associates. Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  31. Kraul, Chris (March 30, 1988). "La Jolla Village Square Being Sold; Expansion Planned". Los Angeles Times.
  32. "Laurel Plaza Shop Center Opens Today". Los Angeles Times. March 7, 1968. p. sf6. (subscription required (help)). Laurel Plaza, May Co.'s shopping center, is scheduled for opening today at Laurel Canyon and Oxnard St. The 600,000 square foot shopping center is completely enclosed and air conditioned. Besides the May Co. store, it has 30 specialty and high fashion shops, an ice skating rink, restaurants, snack facilities and a central mall. Alternate Link via ProQuest.
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