Lawton starts his new position Sept. 8, reporting to Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette, who previously held the president’s title.
“This is a key step as we look to further transform the business and work through the volatility of today’s retail landscape,” Gennette said in announcing Lawton’s hiring. “Macy’s already has one of the strongest omnichannel businesses in the industry, and with Hal on the team, we will accelerate the integration of digital both online and in our stores to deliver the world-class experience our customers demand.”
Lawton was head of eBay’s U.S., Canada and Latin America marketplaces business unit, putting him in charge of a big part of eBay’s core business. EBay had hinted that Lawton would take a new position soon when it announced his departure on Monday morning. Lawton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lawton joined eBay in April 2015, a few months prior to the marketplace’s split from PayPal. He took the job after 10 years at The Home Depot Co., No. 7 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, where held various roles, most recently as senior vice president of merchandising. Before that he was president and senior vice president of online, where he oversaw the strategy, sales and operations of the retailer’s online channels. In that capacity he was a featured speaker at the Internet Retailer Web Design and Usability Conference in 2011. Before joining Home Depot, Lawton was an associate principal at McKinsey & Co. and a process engineer at Champion International Corp.
Lawton brought a retail perspective to eBay, which he said has been primarily a technology-driven organization.
In March 2016, Lawton spoke at the annual ChannelAdvisor Catalyst conference and announced eBay’s entrance back into TV commercials after a two-year hiatus. At the conference full of online marketplace sellers, he said: “EBay is a technology company. Historically, we haven’t been a retailer and haven’t done seasonal marketing.” He said seasonal marketing “is a big deal for eBay, and it’s a big deal for us to get back into TV advertising.”
Some analysts called Lawton’s exit a loss for eBay.
“We note that Mr. Lawton was a popular executive among eBay sellers, many of whom viewed his prior experience in retail (Home Depot) as bringing unique perspective to a ‘Silicon Valley’ company, where many leaders traditionally come from technology and consulting backgrounds,” Colin Sebastian, senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird, wrote in a note to investors. “As such, we view Mr. Lawton’s departure as a mild negative for eBay, although the company has ‘bench strength,’ and many key platform initiatives are well underway, including structured data, improved search and product pages, and refreshed brand marketing.”
Macy’s, No. 6 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, earlier this month that online sales grew by double digits for the 32nd consecutive quarter during the second quarter of fiscal 2017 ended July 29.
Also on Monday, eBay also announced other appointments to regional leadership roles, including the promotion of Scott Cutler, who will replace Lawton as senior vice president of Americas for eBay’s marketplaces. Cutler was hired the same month as Lawton in 2015 as president of online ticketing marketplace StubHub. He will continue to serve as head of StubHub until the company finds a replacement, eBay says.
Jay Lee has been promoted to senior vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa. Lee has been with eBay since 2002 and has held roles primarily in eBay’s Asia Pacific markets.
Additionally, Jooman Park has been promoted to senior vice president of Asia Pacific for eBay’s marketplace business. Park also joined eBay in 2002 and held roles in eBay Korea and eBay Australia.
“Scott, Jay and Jooman are seasoned leaders with great track records. They will continue to focus on accelerating our core business and driving eBay’s competitive advantages as a global commerce leader,” Devin Wenig, president and CEO of eBay, says. “We thank Hal for his contributions and wish him success going forward.”