Belk rebrands for the first time in 43 years

The stores have been remodeled. The denim and shoe sections have been expanded. The clothes have evolved to a more modern look.

The Charlotte department store chain has decided it's time to bring the changes, which have been going on for about two years, outside the front door. The privately held company announced this week that it was rebranding the chain to reflect what had already changed in the stores, the first time it has done so since 1967.

"It's the perfect time to update our brand image," said Jon Pollack, Belk's executive vice president of sales promotion, marketing and e-commerce. "We look at the market share in many of our markets, and we've grabbed market share against all competitors. ... We're hoping to attract more customers into our stores, invite folks in to see what it's all about."

Belk is spending $70 million on new signs, bags and marketing materials, Pollack said, and has already spent millions on new fixtures and technology. It is remaking Belk as the go-to place for the modern Southern woman, with more brands and more variety in the stores.

The new slogan is "Modern. Southern. Style." and a new font replaces the curlicue in Belk's B with more streamlined lettering. In addition to jeans and shoes, the stores are featuring more jewelry outside of jewelry cases and more colorful clothes.

In metro Atlanta, where Belk has its biggest presence, the 21 stores will still have different merchandise depending on whether they are competing in Phipps Plaza or suburban strip malls. Southern division chairman Dave Penrod said it is the company's goal to continue expanding its footprint, in Atlanta and elsewhere. There are a total of 305 stores in 16 states.

The company has moved its Southern division here, from Jacksonville, and employs 20 people in that office.

"It's a very successful area for us," Pollack said of metro Atlanta. "We're coming out of the recession in a very, very strong position."

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.