Former Macy’s exec joins Kurt Salmon

Management consulting firm Kurt Salmon has named Tom Cole as a partner in its Retail and Consumer Products Group.

Cole spent more than 41 years at Macy’s, most recently as the retailer’s chief administrative officer. In addition to overseeing all of the company’s administrative functions — from human resources to credit and customer service to store planning, design and construction — he is credited with helping to transform Macy’s structure and culture into a unified organization operating under a single banner anchored by three core strategic efforts: My Macy’s localization, Omnichannel integration and Magic Selling customer engagement.

“The retail business has undergone many changes over the past 40 years,” said Cole. “I am very excited to bring my experience as a retail executive during that time — and the unique view of the customer that it has yielded me — to the world-class team at Kurt Salmon.”

Cole’s retail career began in 1972, when he joined Polsky’s, a division of the former Allied Stores, as a trainee, eventually rising to the position of assistant controller. He stayed with Allied until 1980, when he joined Federated Department Stores as VP and controller of its I. Magnin division. Cole progressed through numerous roles at Federated, including president of Federated Merchandising Group and chairman and CEO of Macy’s Logistics and Operations, Macy’s Systems Group and Macy’s Credit and Customer Service Group, before being named a vice-chair of Federated in 2003, and then CAO of Macy’s in 2009. He was instrumental in Federated’s acquisition of and merger with R. H. Macy in 1994, its acquisition of and merger with May Company in 2005 and the consolidation of the various Macy’s regional brands into one unified corporate structure in 2009. He retired from Macy’s in June 2013.

Cole has also served as the chair of numerous retail-related boards, including the policy board of the Center for Technology in Supply Chains and Merchandising at NYU Polytechnic; the board of the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association, which awarded him a lifetime achievement award in 2009; and the advisory board for the Deming Center at Columbia Business School, where he served from 2010 through 2013. He currently serves on the Fashion Advisory Board at Kent State University.

Madison Riley, who heads up Kurt Salmon’s North American Retail and Consumer Products practice, praised Cole’s operational expertise.

“Tom’s retail experience is, quite simply, unparalleled,” said Riley. “We plan to leverage his perspective on a whole range of client projects, from due diligence to operations transformation. He is going to add tremendous value to our team.”