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Macy’s files complaint over billboard access

American retailer, Macy’s, has filed a complaint to the New York State Court regarding the use of its long-used billboard in Herald Square.

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The 162 year old company, founded in New York, has held their famous billboard for 60 years

The company has advertised on the board owned by Kaufman Realty for 60 years, being largely known for its famous Macy’s red bag display which wraps around the corner of its large department store.

Macy’s filed the complaint after allegedly learning that the advertising space was being eyed by online retailer, Amazon, a direct competitor of Macy’s, especially during the holiday period.

The US omni-channel fashion retailer employs around 90,000 workers across its business and 726 stores, including the Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury brands. The fashion chain has closed hundreds of stores over the past decade, as have many retailers due to the increase in online shopping.

Macy’s lease on the billboard space expired back in August, however, the company claims a lifetime deal was signed with Kaufman Realty in 1963 that prevents a competitor advertising on the space.

On top of this deal, Macy’s has also highlighted the board is situated on their flagship store, which the retailer likened to: “Pepsi advertising on a Coca-Cola building” in the lawsuit.

We expect to realise the benefits of these rights and have asked the court to protect them.

The complaint includes comments from Benjamin Brotzman, a principal at Macy’s retail group, who says: “It would be as if a competitor hung its 'flag' on top of Macy's flagship department store and announced victory”.

In a statement to SignLink, Macy’s says: “Since the early 1960s Macy’s has placed a billboard sign on the building adjacent to our flagship store at the corner of Broadway and 34th Street.

Macy’s has reasons to believe the landlord of the billboard is in talks with Amazon

“Macy’s continues to have rights relating to advertisements at that location.  We expect to realise the benefits of these rights and have asked the court to protect them. As the matter is in litigation, the company will not have any further comment.”

When asked by the BBC, Amazon declined to comment on the matter, but have been quoted as calling speculation about physical stores and growth as “rumours and speculation”.

Kaufman Realty have also been reported as denying talks, telling New York Post: “While the restrictive covenant will be up to a judge to make a decision, we want to make it clear that we've had no communication or negotiations with Amazon relating to the 1313 Broadway space."

If you have any news, email david@linkpublishing.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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