There has been no shortage of advice for retailers lately on how to weather the post recession phase. Realizing that consumers are looking for value and stability, it makes sense for retailers to check fundamentals, like the quality of their customer service, efficiency of their supply chain, reduce price and at the same time, limit the SKUs and inventory, control their overheads and reach out to more and newer consumers who are brand-loyal or do restricted area shopping. This will also see many mergers and acquisitions taking place. Not only the retailers are seeking to launch designer brands, it’s also a growing trend with the department stores (AO September 16-30, World Wrap).
Now French Connection
and Mango, two very
popular European brand retailers are going to sell from other brand retail outlets… Sears Holdings and JCPenney! It’s a distinct collaboration; European brands riding on the American retail chariot. Does this indicate that the brand is backing off from reliance on their store environment or it’s more to do with ‘survival of the fittest’ story?
Sears Holdings will launch UK Style by French Connection this spring. The collaboration will bring in-store, branded boutiques to 500 Sears locations throughout the US, starting in the first quarter of 2011, just in time for the spring shopping season. Simultaneously, the collection will be available on Sears.com. Going for E-retailing is one of the most predicted format during and post recession and Sears has adopted it by putting French Connection’s on its website. The Western consumer is “buying more products online” and the multi-channel retailers are fully exploiting this opportunity to win over shoppers.
This new format which brand-retailers are adopting from their point of view is a win-win situation for both in terms of extending their presence to other countries or continents. Spain-based Mango has 1,500 stores in 100 countries in five continents; however in the US it has just 12 stores. The partnership with JCPenney will give it greater exposure in this country which will include
twice monthly shipments of
new merchandise. The collaboration between the two companies merges Mango’s
fast-fashion expertise with JCPenney’s merchandising, marketing and inventory management capabilities.
Now French Connection and Mango are going to sell from other brand
retail outlets too… Sears Holdings and JCPenney
The other significant reason which comes out of this tie-up is to attract the unconventional consumer to one’s store and also recuperate its own brand. “French Connection is a world leader in contemporary fashion. This addition in our brand portfolio will significantly increase our relevance among younger customers while strengthening our effort to re-energize our fashion offerings at Sears. The launch of UK Style by French Connection signifies our continued commitment to compelling fashion and great value.” We are thrilled with this major opportunity to work with a company whose vibrant, cutting-edge fashion and avant-garde marketing have made waves in the fashion industry for almost forty years,” says John Goodman, Executive V-P of Apparel and Home for Sears Holdings, the plan represents an important part of Sears’ overall apparel strategy.
“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”… nothing to loose it’s all about gain. MNG by Mango will present a full contemporary lifestyle offering of career and casual women’s sportswear as well as handbags, accessories and footwear. The brand will fall into JCPenney “better’ and “best” pricing tiers. MNG by Mango will be available in all 600 JCPenney stores by fall 2011. Additionally, MNG by Mango expands JCPenney’s exclusive contemporary assortment which currently includes ALLEN B, I Heart Ronson and Bisou Bisou and, according to a statement released by the company, builds on the successful integration of Sephora inside JCPenney.
On the other hand it’s a boon in disguise for French Connection, which has been losing money as per the latest financial reports. “You can expect to see an improvement now as the brand would have wider reach,” says confident Stephen Marks, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the London-based French Connection. Sears will sell the label in the 200 stores that have been upgraded, and projected volume is between
$ 200 million to $ 300 million for UK Style by French Connection, based on that level of distribution. Stephen stressed on the plan to roll out to at least 500 Sears stores and add more products, which means the line could generate far greater volume in the future.
Experts feel that they need to still identify whether brands are to fill holes or opportunities in the assortment. While Sears’ all-American reputation seems at odds with French Connection, it’s a bit reminiscent of JCPenney’s collaborations with Spanish brand Mango.