Macy's may take to the airwaves with its own TV shopping channel


NEW YORK -- Joining the herd of retailers stampeding to sell their wares on cable television, R.H. Macy & Co. is thinking of starting its own shopping channel.

Unlike Saks Fifth Avenue, which announced in March that it would try its hand at selling clothing through QVC Network Inc., Macy is looking at operating its own national shopping channel, people familiar with the company's research said yesterday.

These people said Macy is considering starting the channel in conjunction with partners that would supply programming expertise and financial backing. The retailer, which is operating under the protection of federal bankruptcy court, would invest its merchandising expertise in the venture, plus a limited amount of its capital.

Isaac Lagnado, principal of Tactical Retail Solutions, a market research and consulting firm, estimated that the enterprise would require an investment of $50 million or more.

The New York Post reported yesterday that Don Hewitt executive producer of the CBS News program "60 Minutes," would be a consultant on the project and that he had the network's approval to take part. Mr. Hewitt was out of his office yesterday and did not return a telephone call.

Laurence A. Tisch, the chairman and chief executive of CBS, sit on Macy's board, and Loews Corp., his family's business, owns 15.7 percent of the retailer. But neither Mr. Tisch nor Loews is likely to take part in any television shopping venture, people close to both parties said yesterday.

Macy stated: "We recognize the business development potential the home shopping format might offer a retailer such as Macy's.

"Many retailers and manufacturers have been analyzing the possibilities this format presents. We have been exploring for a number of months how best to capitalize on the many opportunities available to Macy's as part of our long-term business planning process, but no final decision has been made."

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