Macy's is pursuing real estate opportunities: CEO

Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren said Tuesday the company is taking a more professional view of its real estate assets than ever as it faces pressure to unlock their value.

Earlier this month, Starboard Capital urged Macy's to follow through with plans to spin off its real estate holdings in order to raise more cash at a time when the retailer is restructuring, cutting costs and closing a number of stores.

Lundgren said he has spoken to Starboard CEO Jeff Smith and some good ideas have come out of those conversations that the company is pursuing.

"I'm all about trying to get value for our company, and if I can do that without disrupting our business, without leveraging up the company and staying investment grade, I mean, we're all over those ideas," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Lundgren noted that Macy's is seeking to hire an in-house real estate adviser who can look out to the long term and help the company rethink the value opportunities in its property holdings and make its big box stores more productive.

Macy's launch of a discount concept called Macy's Backstage, some of which will be located in existing stores, is part of making its stores more productive, Lundgren said. He acknowledged that it would be some time before the company can determine whether Backstage would cannibalize full-price sales, but said retailers must meet consumer demands.

"All of us, all retailers, have to make stores more productive because as we've described, customers are choosing to buy some product online and some in stores," he said. "We've got to find more reasons, more trips, more ideas to make the box more productive."

Macy's cut its outlook for the fourth quarter last year, and Lundgren acknowledged that it has been a tough holiday season for retailers in the company's category.

Shares of Macy's closed last week at $37.88, off a 52-week high of $73.61 in July.

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