How ‘Project Leapfrog’ helps Lucky Brand win
Lucky Brand may be 25 years old, but with two new prototypes performing well and a series of omnichannel investments yielding results, the private equity-backed company’s most significant growth could be just beginning.
Lucky Brand operates 259 stores, about two thirds of which are in malls, and its namesake products are sold in specialty shops and leading department stores such as Macy’s and Dillard’s. Although it was founded in 1990, Lucky Brand is positioned to achieve its greatest success in the years ahead due to a series of events that include a new ownership structure, a recently introduced prototype and a major technology undertaking dubbed, “Project Leapfrog.”
The architect of Project Leapfrog is Lucky Brand chief information officer Jason Richard. He joined the company in June of 2014 as the first information technology employee following the company’s sale to the private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners a few months earlier. Prior to that deal, Lucky Brand was part of a brand holding company called Fifth & Pacific Companies which also owned Kate Spade and Juicy Couture. Fifth and Pacific sold Juicy Couture in October 2013 to Authentic Brands Group and then in December 2013 sold Lucky Brand for $225 million before adopting the identity of its remaining brand holding, Kate Spade.
As a standalone company, one of Richard’s first challenges at Lucky Brand was to create an IT infrastructure to support growth and enable the company to serve wholesales customers, an expanding store network and increasingly omnichannel customers. It was both a daunting prospect and an enviable position in that Richard had the opportunity to build an information technology organization unencumbered by legacy systems cobbled together with upgrades. Richard started with a clean slate and built an organization (now with 40 employees) and the systems to support a business that was changing fast.
“Netsuite is at the center of our system landscape,” Richard said, referring to the cloud-based software solutions provider at the heart of company’s Project Leapfrog. "NetSuite's modern, cloud-based platform has helped enable our business transformation. We're now equipped with a scalable, flexible platform to streamline complex retail processes and gain complete, real-time financial and inventory visibility across the business to enable a superior omnichannel customer experience.”
Lucky Brand implemented NetSuite OneWorld to run business processes across its B2C and B2B wholesale operations for financial consolidation, inventory management, procure-to-pay, fixed assets, and multi-currency and multi-tax compliance management. Lucky Brand also uses the Netsuite’s Bronto Marketing Platform from Bronto Software to handle commerce marketing automation and drive digital marketing.
As the major IT upgrade was being completed, the company’s traditional mall-based stores were being re-imagined in new free-standing locations. About two thirds of stores are located in malls and average about 2,500 sq. ft., but a newly developed prototype with locations open in Las Vegas and Manhattan Beach, California, is more than twice the size.
“People like wearing Lucky Brand jeans and we are priced so that people can still afford to buy them,” Richard said, noting that about half the company’s sales come from denim. “We also do a lot of business in fashion apparel and we continue to look at opening more stores and expanding assortments.”
Like virtually all retailers, especially those in apparel categories where inventory management is especially challenging due to size and style variables, Lucky leans on its digital presence to offer an endless aisle experience to shoppers.
“Expansion of omnichannel is one of our main focus areas this year," Richard said, adding that he expects progress to be made as the company moves toward a unified platform.
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