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Barneys CEO Says the Company Isn't Losing Money

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

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Mark Lee, CEO of Barneys New York, tells Style.com that Barneys is doing "extremely well" these days. While he doesn't reveal any numbers, he says the company's sales have reached a new historic high in terms of total company sales. "For the first time in the history of Barneys, we have an absolutely clean balance sheet with zero long-term debt," he says. That's pretty remarkable, considering back in 2010, Barneys handed ownership to creditors Perry Capital and Ronald Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. in order to restructure its $590 million debt and avoid bankruptcy court.

Lee says that he is bullish about the role of the store in a landscape of e-commerce. "There's still a touch-and-feel aspect that some people find important. I think ultimately the store, though, serves a bigger role. The store is also an experience … I think, for us anyway, it's always been the case that the store has to serve a purpose in terms of entertainment to some respect. There's food, there's Fred's, there's the social act of shopping, there's the visual display and the windows—all those ingredients go into helping to communicate what Barneys is and what Barneys stands for," he remarks.

The Madison Avenue flagship Barneys store got a somewhat controversial facelift under Lee's tenure, to create a more modern, gallery-like aesthetic, but shoppers shouldn't expect brand shop-in-shops at Barneys anytime soon. Lee says: "We're also deliberately not in the shop-in-shop business that has taken over the world. We have a policy of no leases and no concessions, so we don't rent our space to anybody—we don't make deals with the big brands to give them space and let them decorate, so those are all elements that keep us distinctive and help us play to that customer who favors something that's a little less distributed."

The company is also tapping into new tech to better target online shoppers, creating personalized experiences for each user. "Based on your shopping behavior and even your browsing behavior, you will see a different site. If you're prone to Brioni and more button-down shirts and more classic items, you're going to end up seeing those items and we're going to communicate to you those kinds of items and those kinds of brands, versus if you're a very fashion-forward customer, you're going to see tunics and dresses from Rick Owens or whoever," Lee says.
· The Future of Shopping, Part Three: Mark Lee [Style.com]
· Sears Crushes Barneys, Bergdorf With 'Genius' Digital Strategy [Racked]
· Racial Profiling Cost Barneys $525,000 [Racked]