- This article is about a department store chain. For The Dillards, a progressive bluegrass band, see The Dillards.
based in Little Rock, Arkansas
, is a major department store
chain in the United States
, with 330 stores in 29 states. Its locations are concentrated in Texas
; with a major presence in other states including Arizona
, North Carolina
, South Carolina
, and Ohio
Dillard's is the outgrowth of a Little Rock, Arkansas
, department store founded in 1938 by William T. Dillard
; its corporate headquarters remain located in the eastern edge of Little Rock
area, and many of its executives and directors are members of the Dillard family.
Dillard sold the Nashville store to develop a larger one in Texarkana, Arkansas
, in 1938, initially as the minority partner in Wooten & Dillard. In 1956, Dillard led an investment group that acquired the Mayer & Schmidt store in Tyler, Texas
. This store eventually took on the name "Dillard's Mayer & Schmidt" until 1974, when it was replaced with a mall-based location south of downtown Tyler.
In 1960, Dillard acquired and turned around the failing Brown-Dunkin store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The success of this turnaround was followed in late 1963 by acquiring the Joseph Pfeifer store in Little Rock, Arkansas, and in early 1964 acquiring the other main store in Little Rock, Gus Blass Co. Dillard used this as an opportunity to relocate his headquarters to Little Rock. In 1969, Dillard and his investors took Dillard Department Stores, Inc., public on the American Stock Exchange.
Thereafter, the chain grew rapidly as an anchor in suburban shopping malls, and took advantage of market conditions to acquire smaller chains as well as its ability to turn around locations that other companies could not operate profitably.
Acquisitions & growth
Growth of the Dillard's chain came quickly in the 1970s, mainly through expanding into new malls being built in smaller cities in Texas. In 1971 five Texas units were acquired from Fedway, a division of Federated Department Stores
(the stores were rebadged as Dillard's in 1972). In 1974 five Leonard's stores were acquired in Fort Worth, Texas
, as well as a commitment to open a new downtown Fort Worth store at the Tandy Center (site of the original Leonard's). Also in 1974, the former Brown-Dunkin, Blass, Pfeifer and Mayer & Schmidt stores were fully renamed Dillard's.
The 1980s brought the purchase of many local chains. In 1982, Dillard's leased three units of the defunct Lowenstein's chain in Memphis, Tennessee. In early 1984, Dillard’s acquired 12 Stix, Baer & Fuller stores in St. Louis and Kansas City from Associated Dry Goods Corp., while in fall 1984 two department store divisions were purchased from Dayton Hudson: Diamond's and John A. Brown, with locations in Arizona, Nevada and Oklahoma. Twelve stores in Kansas and Missouri belonging to R. H. Macy & Co.'s Midwest Division, which was later dissolved in 2006, were acquired in early 1986, while the three-unit Hemphill-Wells company in West Texas was purchased in the summer.
In 1987, Dillard's purchased 26 of Joske's 27 stores in Texas and Arizona as well as the four unit Cain-Sloan chain in Nashville, Tennessee from Allied Stores Corp. This deal gave Dillard's two major anchor locations at several malls in Texas and Arizona with many of the second locations being converted to a separate, expanded home and men's stores, a format that Dillard's utilized greatly, both to grow its store size cost effectively and to prevent competitors from gaining valuable real estate. Additionally the Joske's acquisition gave Dillard's entry into the Houston market. In 1988, Dillard's purchased the three-unit Miller & Paine chain in Lincoln, Nebraska, as well as more significantly, a half-interest and operational control of The Higbee Co., based in Cleveland, Ohio with partner Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. D. H. Holmes Co., Ltd., of New Orleans, was purchased in 1989, bringing 18 units primarily in Louisiana, as well two former Diamond's units in Tucson, Arizona.
chain of 23 stores in Florida, North Carolina
and South Carolina
was added in 1990 . This was followed by the acquisition of eight Florida Gulf Coast stores from Maison Blanche
Co. in 1991 (which had acquired them as Robinsons of Florida only a few years before). In 1992, the remaining interest in the Higbee's stores were acquired, as well as five Ohio stores from Horne's
(as part of a legal settlement, Dillard's having canceled a 1988 deal to acquire the chain). Also in 1992, three stores from the Hess's
chain liquidation (five other former Hess's were acquired in 1994), two E.M. Scarbrough's locations in Austin, Texas
, two former Thalhimer's
in South Carolina and Tennessee, a former Lord & Taylor
store in Memphis, Tennessee
and three former Belk-Lindsey stores in Florida were acquired by Dillard's. Except for two Belk of Columbia stores acquired in 1995, acquisitions were eschewed for several years until in early 1997 ten buildings in Florida were acquired from Mervyns, seven southern Virginia stores were purchase from Proffitt's
(which had acquired them from Hess's in 1993), and the three suburban Macy's
stores in Houston, Texas
Acquisition of Mercantile
The deal-making culminated with the purchase of Mercantile Stores
Co., Inc. in 1998. The purchase of this Fairfield, Ohio-based department store company brought several chains, including Bacon's
, Castner Knott
, de Lendrecie's
, Glass Block
, J.B. White
, Lion Store
, Maison Blanche
and The Jones Store
. Dillard's sold 26 stores of the former Mercantile Stores to May Department Stores
Co. and Saks Incorporated
and traded an additional seven stores to Belk
for nine of theirs in southern Virginia and Chattanooga, Tennessee
. Overall this deal enabled Dillard's to enhance its position in several markets in the South, Midwest and Mountain States.
After the acquisition of Mercantile, Dillard's ceased expanding through acquisitions, although eight locations of the defunct Montgomery Ward
, and four locations from ZCMI
in Utah and Idaho were acquired in 2001.
In 2004 Dillard's store credit card operation, operated as Dillard's National Bank, was sold to GE Money Bank. Customers can now be issued Dillard's/American Express cards as well the traditional Dillard's store charge. These cards can be used at any store that accepts American Express.
2008 Dillard's plans to close their traveling agency which operates in 43 of the 318 stores.
The chain continues to expand. Though it has recently begun adding stores in non-mall shopping centers, Dillard's largest store at 350,000 square feet (33,000 m²) is located at Scottsdale Fashion Square
, an enclosed super-regional mall in Scottsdale, Arizona
. Its flagship store in the east coast, at 260,000 square feet, is located in the upscale MacArthur Center
mall in Norfolk, Virginia