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Charlotte Russe Faces Challenging Frontier
Charlotte Russe Faces Challenging Frontier
It all started early this year, when Charlotte Russe Holding Inc. buyers rolled the dice and gambled. For pre-Fall, they decided to bring in a larger mix of subdued merchandise marked by a muted-color palette rather than totally embrace the bold, bright colors being sold by other retailers catering to the juniors market.
When teens hit the Charlotte Russe stores in June to peruse the clothing rounders, those neutral tones didn’t translate into big sales. During the three months ending June 26, same-store sales skipped a beat, dipping 6.5 percent from the same-year-earlier period.
One month later, the company’s longtime chief executive, 59-year-old Mark Hoffman, was out the door. On July 20, days before a national conference call was scheduled to discuss the company’s third-quarter earnings results, Hoffman abruptly announced he was retiring after seven years with the San Diego–based retailer, which is named after a French dessert.
Now the company is in search of a new chief executive and a way to earn back customers in one of the most challenging retail climates experienced in recent years. The company’s stock is trading at around $13, slightly above its 52-week low of $12.05 on July 24 and far from its 52-week high of $20.61 on Feb. 25.
“There are some definite challenges out there, but the business isn’t broken,” said Liz Pierce, an analyst who covers Charlotte Russe for Roth Capital Partners in Newport Beach, Calif. “We are just in a very difficult retail environment, heading into the most important time of the year with significant headwinds.”
Like most mall-based chains, Charlotte Russe has been fighting for every sales dollar it rings up. Even though net sales rose 12 percent during the first nine months of this fiscal year to $616.5 million, the company’s net income declined 11 percent to $24.5 million, compared with the same period last year. Still, the company had a profit, and it has no long-term debt.
But already, Charlotte Russe executives estimate that same-store sales during the next three months will be down. Interim Chief Executive Leonard Mogil, a board director since 2001 who has stepped in on a temporary basis, noted that he expects comparable-store sales to slide by single digits during the company’s fourth quarter. “That said, our merchants feel positive about our Back-to-School assortments that arrived in stores this week [July 20],” Mogil said in a conference call.
When store executives saw their June merchandise falter, they quickly started taking markdowns and rushed in Fall goods.
Management Changes at Jones Apparrel Group
Jones Apparel Group (www.jny.com), a Fortune 500 Company, is a well-known designer, marketer and wholesaler of branded apparel, footwear and accessories. Jones is best known for their brands including Nine West, Anne Klein and Jones New York. (For full list of brands see bottom of page) Based in Bristol, Pennsylvania, Jones Apparel Group also runs four offices in New York City. Jones has been in business for over thirty years, and markets directly to the consumers by using chains of specialty retail and value-based stores.
Recently there have been many changes to the Jones Apparel Group that have had an impact on the industry. On February 13th, 2008 it was announced that the l.e.i brand, owned by Jones Apparel Group, Inc. will soon be carried in Wal-Mart stores across the nation. Beginning in the summer of 2008, l.e.i. clothes will be offered to juniors, junior pluses and girls for the back-to-School shopping season. L.e.i is a teen clothing brand that stands for Life, Energy, Intelligence. This brand has been well known among teens, especially for their denim designs, and was previously available in the department store markets.
Since Jones acquired l.e.i in 2002, the brand has been declining in popularity. The deal to buy l.e.i was worth $385 million. Changing the image of l.e.i. was put on Jack Gross, who became CEO of Jones’ denim and junior segments in January of 2006. Gross put l.e.i more into the Jones’ company operations, but sales were not improving. L.e.i sales, which started at $248 million, have fallen to $70 million, and even the attempt to make the brand more youthful has fallen on deaf ears. “The branding that we had in the national chain channel went a little too youthful," said Gross. "I believe the junior customer is not 13 to 17, it's 13 to 24 or 25 years old. We enhanced the branding to encompass the broader age group of the junior consumer."
The l.e.i sales in Wal-Mart stores will hopefully bring up sales for Jones in the future. Retail of the pants will be under $20.
Another major change to the Jones Apparel Group has been the announcement of new Vice President of Design for Anne Klein New York. Ted Kim, who previously worked as Senior Designer for the Michael Kors Collection, was chosen for this position on February 18, 2008. As Vice President of Design, Kim will be in charge of overseeing the design functions for Anne Klein New York Sportswear. In the spring of 2009, Kim will be presenting his first line.
Another company of Jones Apparel group, Nine West, has also presented a new addition to their team. On February 29, 2008, Richard Paterno, 50, was announced as the newly created President of Wholesale Better Footwear Brands starting March 31, 2008. Paterno has been in the industry for over thirty years, and recently served as President and CEO of Rockport. He has previously worked as President of Easy Spirit.
Paterno will be overseeing sales management and business strategy for Nine West’s better wholesale footwear businesses such as Nine West, Bandolino and Easy Spirit. Paterno will report to Andrew Cohen, Chief Executive Officer of Wholesale Footwear and Accessories.
Also, Nine West Group brought in Patrick McLaughlin as president of Nine West and Boutique 9 Wholesale, starting on March 3, 2008. McLaughlin, as well as other heads of wholesale better footwear divisions, will report to Paterno.
Written By McCalla, Megan Katherine
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