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Apparel retailers disappoint in April

BY CSA STAFF

New York City As an early Easter prompted many U.S. consumers to move up their spring spending to March, many retailers posted disappointing results for April. The results were not unexpected and many industry experts and chains looked at the combined two-month results for a better read of the consumer sentiment than April alone.

Some of the biggest misses were posted by teen apparel retailers. At Hot Topic, same-store sales were down 12.5%, while Thomson expected a 7.9% drop. The Buckle, a high-flyer throughout much of the recession, posted a 5.7% decline, while expectations were for a 1.7% jump.

Gap’s same-stores sales dropped 3% in April, with declines across all of its brands and overseas. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a 1.3% increase. Total revenue for the four weeks ended May 1 was flat at $1.05 billion.

For the first quarter, Gap reported a 4% increase in same-store sales. Total quarterly revenue increased 6% to $3.33 billion. Wall Street had forecast $3.3 billion.

At Aeropostale, same-store sales dropped 5% in April, also worse than analysts expected. But the company raised guidance because margins improved over the prior year.

For the month, the teen retailer’s total net revenue edged down to $137.2 million from $137.7 million. Aeropostale said its merchandise margins increased significantly over the prior year and its inventories are still well controlled.

At Limited Brands, same-store sales rose 4% in April, in line with Wall Street expectations. Total sales at the Limited rose to $584.6 million, from $531.2 million. Total revenue for the four weeks ended May 1 rose 10% to $584.6 million.

Urban Outfitters reported an 11% rise in April same-store sales. Total sales climbed 25% to $480 million. Same-store sales at its Anthropology stores rose 22% in the quarter while direct-to-consumer sales jumped 42%.

In other April same-store highlights:

— Discount apparel retailer Ross Stores said Thursday that same-store sales rose 3% in April, less than the 6.3% jump that analysts had forecast. Total sales for the month rose 7% to $570 million.

CEO Michael Balmuth said the company misjudged the impact of the shift of Easter to March from April.

“April also was hurt by unseasonably cool and wet weather, especially in California, our largest market,” he said.

— The Wet Seal said same-store sales fell 6.1% in April. Analysts had expected a 2.5%.

— Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s same-store sales fell 7%, worse than analysts predicted. Total revenue rose 8% to $214.3 million.

The teen clothing company’s namesake brand posted a 7% drop in same-store sales, while abercrombie kids reported a 5% drop. Sales fell 7% at Hollister.

For the quarter, the company’s revenue at stores open at least a year grew 1% , while total net revenue rose 14%  to $687.8 million.

— American Eagle Outfitters said sales fell 6%, worse than the 3.9% decline Wall Street expected. Revenue for the month fell 1% to $192 million.

For the first quarter, same-store sales rose 5% , while total revenue increased 8% to $659 million, above analysts’ expectations.

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CSA Editor’s Pick: Levi’s London flagship

BY Marianne Wilson

Levi’s has relaunched its London flagship on Regent Street after a massive facelift that has completely transformed the interior. The refurbished two-level, 8,500-sq.-ft. store aims to tell the story of the craft that goes into Levi’s denim making. The store combines authenticity, craftsmanship and storytelling to deliver a complete brand experience — one that engages customers even as it helps them with the jean-buying experience. All that aside, it’s a pretty cool store.

With a factory-inspired architectural design, the redone Levi’s takes customers on a journey through the brand’s evolution and the history of denim itself. All of the featured materials, which include exposed brick, raw steel, concrete, wood and glass, in some way connect with the essence of the workplace theme.

From the street, customers enter a transition space with reclaimed brick walls that is home to an ever-changing gallery that showcases everything from exclusive product collaborations to art exhibitions. The area works as a bridge between the youthful creativity and the contemporary scene and the artisan workplace.

Customers then move through two sets of huge factory doors to the main-level selling space, home to the latest collections. The space has a clean and industrial look and feel, with furniture and fixtures that are simple, but flexible enough to allow for an ever-changing environment.

A contemporary staircase leads down to the basement level. Backlit glass risers with Levi’s “XX” laser are cut into each tread. Alongside the stairwell is a gallery wall exhibit with a design inspired by glass-fronted storage cabinets. Among the items on display: an original 201 Jean from the 1920s (on loan from Levi’s archives) encased in glass and set against a backdrop of tailor’s patterns. The display speaks volumes about the brand’s longevity and also acts as a visual signpost for the adjacent Levi’s Vintage Clothing collection.

The basement is home to the 501 Jeans warehouse, separated from the rest of the store by floor to ceiling glaze and a mirrored back wall. Some 22 different washes are on display.

Close by is the “Inspection Room,” which is split into zones that allow customers to shop either by fit or finish. To ease the process, key fits and finishes are displayed on tailor’s forms and in illuminated inspection cabinets. A simple-to-follow number and letter navigation system takes customers to stock held in adjacent wall bays.

Among the store’s points of distinction are the fitting rooms, crafted with duck canvas that recalls the original canvas used by Levi Strauss in the 19th century. The doors are scaled versions of the heavyweight industrial doors found at the store entrance. An adjacent display of vintage weaver’s equipment pays homage to the brand’s craft and roots.

Levi’s was designed by Checkland Kindleysides, Cossington, Leicestershire (U.K).

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Costco COO to retire in June

BY CSA STAFF

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Costco Wholesale has announced the retirement of Dick DiCerchio as its senior EVP and COO, effective June 4.

Jim Sinegal, Costco’s CEO, stated: “Dick has made invaluable contributions to the growth of our company, having spent 27 years in all facets of our operations, culminating with his positions as senior EVP and a member of the board of directors. Under his leadership, the company has trained and developed a broad and deep team of executives across the globe. Jeff Brotman, I, our board of directors, and our employees are deeply grateful to Dick for all his contributions to our success and wish him a healthy and productive retirement.”

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