Macy’s is launching a new fleet of discount stores that it hopes will help it better compete for bargain shoppers.

The department store chain announced Tuesday that it plans to open four pilot locations of Macy’s Backstage, a new off-price brand.  The retail outlets will open in New York this fall and will be similar to Nordstrom Rack or TJMaxx, offering a mix of clothing and home goods at 20 to 80 percent off their original prices.

“We believe we can deliver a whole new level of value to customers who appreciate fashion and love to hunt for a bargain,” said Peter Sachse, Macy’s chief innovation and business development officer.

Even as shoppers get more distance from the recession, they have clung to the deal-hunting mindset that take hold during that era.  With an off-price concept, Macy’s is making an aggressive bid for shoppers who continue to fixate on low prices.

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Chief executive Terry Lundgren has said he hasn’t always felt this type of business was the right strategic move for Macy’s.

When it came to starting an off-price offshoot, “I was the obstacle,” Lundgren said in April at a retailing conference in Tucson. “Because I said, ‘You know what? Macy’s price points are too close to the off-price world.'”

But Lundgren said his innovation team, led by Sachse, convinced him there may be an audience for such outlets.  Sachse has been working on the concept for about six months with a team of about 20 leaders who have experience working at off-price competitors such as TJMaxx, Nordstrom Rack or Saks Off Fifth.

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The launch of Macy’s Backstage is just one of several major strategic moves the department store chain has made so far this year.  It scooped up beauty retailer Bluemercury for $210 million, its first acquisition in more than a decade. It also restructured its merchandising and marketing functions to better suit what’s known as omnichannel retailing, in which shoppers move seamlessly between  in-store and online shopping

Sachse’s team is not just working on the off-price concept; it has been tasked with exploring international expansion.  Currently, Macy’s has one overseas store slated to open in Abu Dhabi in 2018, but is considering other locations.

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