Archive for the ‘Apparel’ Category

Increasing gas prices, declining house market and rise on the price of basic food items have led consumers to reduce their spending in more discretionary items like apparel, furniture and travel. Many apparel retailers have reported huge declines in same stores sales – Limited -5%, Gap -6% and Chico’s -15%.

In the face of such challenges, many retailers are adopting cost reduction strategies as the last resort to preserve their business profitability since the current environment does not allow them to focus on sales growth.

Apparel retailers have reported an improvement in gross margins as a result of better management of inventory at the stores. They are buying less goods and then reducing the amount of merchandise sold at discount. Others are going beyond inventory and actually reducing staff at headquarters. Talbots recently announced a reduction of approximately 10% at headquarters. Another lever to reduce cost is closing underperforming stores. For example, Gap has communicated its plans to combine Gap Body, Gap Kids and Baby Gap stores under its namesake stores in an attempt to better utilize real state and reduce leasing costs.

The positive side of this story is that apparel retailers are actually now looking at their operations and trying to reduce inefficiencies, most created in times of growth when increasing sales hide their operational inefficiencies. This is a great chance for these retailers, once the economy rebounds, to emerge with a much  leaner operation.


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Gap Inc. has recently announced the integration of its four web sites: Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Piperlime. So now customers will be able to navigate across all brands and place one single order, saving on shipping costs and having a more convenient and fast shopping experience.

This will allow Gap to improve efficiencies by reducing the number of orders to process. Gap’s executives also expect to increase revenues as customers will trade up when picking products across the brands.

Initially, Piperlime products will be shipped separately, but in 2009 the integration of the brand’s inventory under the same roof of all the others will make it one single shipment.


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