Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution, said to be the nation's first department store, will be renamed Meier & Frank on April 18, The May Co. announced Thursday.
The move was expected because Meier & Frank, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based The May Co., has been operating the ZCMI stores and made no secret that the days of the venerable ZCMI name were numbered when the pioneer-era department store was acquired by May in 1999.
Along with the name change, M&F, based in Portland, Ore., said it would spend $60 million in a remodeling and merchandising program at five of its Salt Lake-area stores.
These include the downtown flagship store and those in the Cottonwood Mall, South Towne Center, Layton Hills Mall and Valley Fair Mall.
The company said the renovations represented the largest remodeling program in the company's history.
M&F also said it expects no jobs to be cut as a result of the name change, and the company affirmed its continued support of various charitable activities and community events, including its sponsorship of the Salt Lake City Music Festival.
Following the transition to the M&F name, the former ZCMI stores at Cottonwood, South Towne, Layton Hills, Valley Fair and Fashion Place will open on Sundays. The other seven stores, including downtown, will remain closed on Sundays.
When ZCMI was acquired by May, it was stipulated that no stores bearing the ZCMI name would open on Sunday and that the original store, located less than a block from Temple Square, would never open on Sunday regardless of its name.
The name change will also apply to the ZCMI stores in Idaho.
Melissa Wayment, ZCMI Center mall marketing director, said the name of the mall itself will remain the same.
"We had thought about (changing the name) in the past, but we feel that it still has a lot of value to us," Wayment said. "People know the ZCMI name, and so we're going to keep it. (The store's name change) will also help us because it will be less confusing for people. We get a lot of calls for ZCMI department stores."
Other than the store's name change, Wayment said the mall will not be affected by the shift to Meier & Frank.
M&F spokeswoman Cheryl Hansen said the historic facade that features the ZCMI name on the outside of the downtown location will not be changed.
"In an effort to preserve the historical facade of the downtown location, the ZCMI will stay on the front of the building," she said. "But other signs, such as those in the mall entrances and the parking structure and other exterior signs, will all be Meier & Frank signs."
Hansen said she could not comment on how well the ZCMI stores have been doing since the change in ownership.
Richard A. Maloney, M&F's president and chief executive officer, said ZCMI customers should experience a smooth transition to the Meier & Frank name. New M&F charge cards will be mailed to customers before the name change takes effect April 18.
ZCMI store signs will begin to change over the next several weeks, the spokesman said.
"I'm disappointed," Louise Hague of Salt Lake City said upon hearing the news Thursday morning in the ZCMI Center. "ZCMI has been a landmark for so long. I think they've lost business since they changed owners. It's not a reflection on (Meier & Frank), but I think people came to this mall because ZCMI was here."
However, Hague said she had hopes for the store's future. "Hopefully they'll make some positive changes and liven the place up a bit."
The major remodeling of the five stores will continue until November, when the work will pause for the holiday shopping season and the 2002 Winter Games. Completion of the remodeling work is scheduled for November 2002.
The remodeling will take place simultaneously at all five stores and will incorporate open floor plans and updated visual presentations. Improvements will include custom display cases, new marble and wood flooring, wood trim and improved lighting and fixtures.
"This demonstrates our long-term confidence in the Salt Lake City market and our commitment to provide outstanding customer services and an enhanced retail environment with convenient Sunday shopping hours," said David Armstrong, M&F chairman.
ZCMI announced in October 1999 it had agreed to sell the pioneer department store chain to The May Department Stores Co. The news of the proposed sale came weeks after President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints indicated in the church's general conference that the organization would divest itself of some operations begun in pioneer times that were no longer "central to its mission."
The purchase, valued at $52 million, gave ZCMI shareholders shares in May Co. stock equivalent to $22.50 for each share of ZCMI. Shareholders approved the sale Dec. 31, 1999, making ZCMI part of Meier & Frank.
May Co. also announced Thursday the restructuring of its management team following the retirement of chairman Jerome T. Loeb. Effective April 30, 2001, May Co. president and CEO Eugene S. Kahn will become chairman and CEO. John L. Dunham, vice chairman and chief financial officer, will become president; and Thomas D. Fingleton, executive vice president, will also become the company's CFO.
M&F operates 20 stores in Utah, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Sales for fiscal 2000 totaled $580 million. The May Co. is one of the nation's largest retailers with fiscal 2000 sales of $14.45 billion. It operates 427 department stores and 124 David's Bridal stores in 43 states.
Contributing: Jenifer Nii, Greg Kratz