Macy's will replace locally familiar names including Filene's in New England and Famous-Barr in the Midwest in some 330 stores across the...

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CINCINNATI — Macy’s will replace locally familiar names including Filene’s in New England and Famous-Barr in the Midwest in some 330 stores across the nation under post-merger plans announced yesterday by Federated Department Stores.

Federated also plans to sell 68 stores, including 27 current Macy’s, next year because they overlap in markets with May Department Stores, the company Federated is buying. The stores employ 13,500 people, but Federated spokesman Jim Sluzewski said he expected “very few, if any” layoffs and that most workers would be offered other jobs.

Federated has pledged not to cut any jobs before March 1.

The changes mean Macy’s will have a total 730 stores across the United States in nearly every major market. Federated’s decisions followed research into customer attitudes.

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Along with Seattle’s Bon Marché, such long-established names as Burdines in Florida, Rich’s in Atlanta and Lazarus in Ohio were dropped by Federated in March in favor of Macy’s. In the Bon’s case, it was gradual, following a 2003 name change to Bon-Macy’s.

Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a New York-based customer-research marketing firm, said the conversion to Macy’s “makes a lot of sense not only from the economic and communication point of view, but facing up to the realities of the marketplace.”

He said there’s always risk in changing well-known names, but that the regional names no longer have the impact they did decades ago, while the Macy’s name has a national identity with its stores and the Thanksgiving Day parade.

“Macy’s has a lot of currency and a lot of resonating values,” Passikoff said.

The current Federated and May stores have a combined $30 billion in annual sales. Federated said the 68 stores being sold account for $2 billion in annual sales.

All May stores will operate under their existing nameplates through the holidays. Federated said the plans may be adjusted, and that a small number of stores may be converted to Bloomingdale’s.

The May regional department stores involved in the conversion are Famous-Barr, Filene’s, Foley’s, Hecht’s, The Jones Store, Kaufmann’s, L.S. Ayres, Meier & Frank, Robinsons-May and Strawbridge’s. Filene’s Basement stores aren’t owned by May and are unaffected.

The Famous-Barr name dates to 1911 in St. Louis, May’s corporate headquarters.

Federated also said it has identified 68 duplicate department store locations in 66 malls that it plans to divest itself of starting next year.

The Cincinnati-based retail chain said it won’t convert May’s Lord & Taylor stores to Macy’s, but has not yet decided what to do with the banner of May’s Minneapolis-based Marshall Field’s chain, which has 62 stores.

Some Field’s customers hope things won’t change. This week, a Minneapolis resident launched a Web site called www.keepitfields.org in a bid to save the Field’s banner, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. By yesterday afternoon, dozens of people had signed the Web site’s petition, threatening to boycott Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores if the corporate parent scrubs the Field’s name.

Information on duplication in malls and the Field’s name provided by Knight Ridder Newspapers reporter Scott Carlson.