ranks among the nation's largest fashion apparel and home furnishings
retailers with annual revenues exceeding $7.7 billion. The Company
focuses on delivering maximum fashion and value to its shoppers
by offering compelling apparel and home selections complemented
by exceptional customer care. Dillard's stores offer a broad selection
of merchandise and feature products from both national and exclusive
brand sources. The Company operates approximately 330 Dillard's
locations spanning 29 states, all with one nameplate - Dillard's.
William Dillard, the founder and Chairman of Dillard's, Inc., developed
a keen interest in retailing at an early age. He started his success
story in 1938 when, with $8,000 borrowed from his father, he opened
a small store in his wife's hometown of Nashville, Arkansas. By
that time, he had better than 12 years of part-time and summer experience
working in his father's Mineral Springs, Arkansas store. After completing
college (University of Arkansas-1935) and graduate school (Columbia
University School of Business-1937), Mr. Dillard began working as
a management trainee for Sears Roebuck & Company. Shortly after
completing the training course, a period of only seven months, Mr.
Dillard left Sears and opened his first store.
Even in the beginning, Mr.
Dillard was well aware of the value of effective advertising in
building a business. With each move/expansion, the company has stressed
value in its advertising. Aside from a short period during World
War II, the Company continued operating and expanding its Nashville
location. In 1948, Dillard, looking for more growth prospects, sold
the Nashville store and used the money, along with some outside
financing, to buy controlling interest in a Texarkana (AR,TX) store.
His competitive strategy was to offer attractively priced national
name brand merchandise along with customer credit. By 1953, it was
the leading store in Texarkana. From Texarkana, Dillard expanded
to Tyler, Texas in 1956 with the purchase of an existing store.
In early 1960 he entered into a similar transaction for a Tulsa,
Oklahoma store which was twice the size of the now thriving Tyler
operation. Like his other acquisitions, he was quick to make it
profitable and to pay down acquisition-related debt.
The department store operator
opened his first store in a shopping mall in 1964 in Austin, TX,
a decision which proved to have significant implications in the
chain's future growth strategy. One of the cornerstones of
Dillard's philosophy is that
location is the key to success. Meanwhile, the Company had established
a credit subsidiary, purchased two central Arkansas department store
chains, relocated its headquarters to Little Rock, Arkansas, implemented
a centralized computer system, realigned its capital structure and
used its existing store base as a vehicle for expansion into mall
locations. Throughout the late sixties and beyond, this aggressive
mall expansion would continue.
In 1969, Dillard Department
Stores, Inc. went public, offering its Class A Common Stock to eager
investors for the first time on May 9. By the early 1970's, the
chain had moved into Louisiana, Missouri and New Mexico and had
expanded its presence in Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, thus necessitating
a divisional organization within the parent company. In 1974, the
purchase of five stores from Tandy's Leonard's Division gave Dillard
a strong foothold in the Dallas/Fort Worth market.
Further consolidation in
the department store industry made possible for Dillard many smaller
acquisitions until 1983. Then, just five days after announcing the
second two- for-one stock split, Dillard's announced the acquisition
of Stix, Baer & Fuller, consisting of 12 stores located in the
St. Louis and Kansas City areas. In 1984, two department store divisions
were purchased from Dayton Hudson, adding stores in Oklahoma, Arizona
and Nevada. 1986 was marked by the acquisition of 12 stores in the
Midwest from R.H. Macy. In 1987, 27 units were purchased from Joske's
and three from Cain-Sloan. In 1988, Dillard's purchased a ½ interest
in 12 Higbee Department Stores located in Ohio. The D.H. Holmes
company was purchased in 1989, consisting of 18 units in the south.
The following year the J.B. Ivey chain was purchased, 23 stores
spanning North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.
In 1991, the last storewide
sales event was eliminated as Dillard's moved to a more balanced
pricing approach. This pricing strategy was designed to help create
loyalty and confidence among Dillard's customers. The year was also
marked with the acquisition of 7 Maison Blanche stores in northern
and western Florida.
Acquisition activity slowed
from 1992 to 1997, as properties became less available. The Company
turned its focus to construction and expansion, constructing over
60 stores. In 1997, Dillard's again entered the acquisition arena
and purchased ten Mervyn's stores in Florida, seven Proffitt's locations
in Virginia, and three Macy's stores in Houston, Texas.
On May 18, 1998, Dillard's
announced a tender offer for the acquisition of Mercantile Stores
Company, Inc., a chain of 103 traditional stores based near Cincinnati,
Ohio. The acquisition, the largest in the history of the Company,
was completed on August 18. After strategic sales and swaps of stores,
mainly in overlapping markets, the Company retained approximately
75 of the former Mercantile locations.
On February 8, 2002, William
T. Dillard passed away leaving a legacy of tremendous success in
Today, a major part of Dillard's
marketing philosophy remains based on Mr. Dillard's sound selling
methods, keen attention of day-to-day organizational details, alert
selection of personnel and hard work. Presently, the chain consists
of approximately 330 stores spanning 29 states, all operating under
the name Dillard's - the largest nameplate in fashion apparel retailing.