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November 16, 2010






  • While sales strengthened at quarter end for URBN, one of the key callouts in the quarter is the divergence in fashion trends emerging between regions. Not only are there differences between coasts, but including the Midwest as well suggesting that retailers with inadequate planning and allocation systems could be at an increasing competitive disadvantage headed into the holiday.
  • For the first time, the success of Dick’s Sporting Goods’ shared service (self-help) format available in the footwear department was quantified with management highlighting 500bps of comp outperformance relative to typical footwear chain results. Not surprisingly, the company will be stepping conversions beginning next year with 20 slated on a base of only 46 stores.
  • With sell-through rates of regular priced product nearing historical highs, Nordstrom’s management noted an opportunity for further gross margin upside from a less promotional selling environment. A return to sales outpacing inventory growth certainly helps. 


Loehmann's Files for Ch. 11 - Loehmann’s Capital Corp. Monday filed a voluntary prepackaged Chapter 11 petition in Manhattan bankruptcy court. Whippoorwill Associates Inc. and Istithmar World have agreed to invest $25 million into the firm upon its emergence from bankruptcy, expected in the first quarter of 2011. Whippoorwill owns 70 percent of the senior notes and Istithmar is the equity sponsor. The two also agreed to a restructuring plan in which the retailer’s debt will be reduced and its balance sheet recapitalized. According to court documents, the new capital structure will allow Loehmann’s to reduce debt by $115 million. The prepackaged filing also will preserve 1,900 jobs and the Loehmann’s brand. A reorganization of some kind has been considered a foregone conclusion since Oct. 29, when the company failed to complete a debt swap and defaulted on its credit agreement. Crystal Financial, Loehmann’s lender, is providing a $45 million debtor-in-possession credit facility. Loehmann’s said it will have “sufficient liquidity and the financial flexibility to fund daily operations.” The petition filed with the court estimated the number of creditors at between 1,000 and 5,000, with both assets and liabilities each estimated at between $100 million and $500 million. The five largest unsecured claims were listed as the ladies’ division of G-III, New York, $774,498; Tahari Ltd., Pittsburgh, $580,939; Urban Outfitters, New York, $569,438; Juicy Couture, Newark, $519,131, and Republic Clothing Corp., New York, $509,240. Joseph Melvin, Loehmann’s chief operating officer, chief financial officer and secretary, said in an affidavit that net sales fell $30.4 million, or 6.7 percent, to $422.2 million in fiscal year 2009 from $452.5 million in fiscal year 2008. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While not a surprise following the failed debt swap in October, the two callouts here are 1) duration with the company already expecting to emerge from bankruptcy next quarter, and 2) URBN and LIZ on the hook among the largest unsecured claims. While the size of the claims are similar its more material for Juicy, which is a quarter of the size of Urban.

Robust 1H Results from Burberry - First-half profits at Burberry Group plc rose 46.3 percent to 83.1 million pounds, or $126.3 million, from 56.8 million pounds, or $86.3 million, on the back of a 21.6 percent increase in revenue for six months to Sept. 30. Dollar figures have been converted from euros at average exchange rates for the period. “The continued focus on the brand, ongoing investment in our digital, IT and retail infrastructure, especially in China, and a disciplined approach to driving growth underpin our confidence in delivering long-term sustainable returns,” stated chief executive Angela Ahrendts. In the second half, Burberry said average selling space is expected to increase by about 25 percent, and 15 percent of that new space will be in China. Wholesale revenue, excluding China, is set to increase by around 10 percent at constant currency, led by emerging markets and travel retail. Wholesale revenue including China, where the brand has repurchased its retail operations, is expected to be down by a low single-digit percentage at constant currency. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With the expectation of 25% square footage growth, Burberry has one of the more aggressive expansion plans among global retailers over the next 6-months.

Adi Eyes #2 Spot in China - Adidas AG, the world’s second- largest sporting-goods maker, will increase China stores by 9 percent to 6,100 by the end of next year as it forecast sales growth of at least 10 percent in the country. Adidas plans 500 net store openings in the world’s most populous nation, with Greater China sales projected to exceed 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion) next year, Chief Executive Officer Herbert Hainer said in an interview today in Shanghai. The clothing and footwear market in China may be worth 334 billion yuan ($50 billion) in 2010, almost double what it was five years ago, data from Euromonitor International show. Adidas competes with Nike Inc., the world’s largest sporting-goods maker, and Li Ning Co. in China, where retail sales growth averaged 18.3 percent in the 10 months through January. “I’m quite confident” in China, Hainer said. “We’ll see double-digit growth in China over the coming years. It’s a big population and a lot of people want their sneakers.” Adidas plans to add about 2,500 stores in smaller Chinese cities over the next five years, expanding its presence to 1,400 cities from 550 now.  <Bloomberg>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Adi plans on taking back its position as the #2 brand in China by the end of next year. Fortunately for all involved, the Chinese market is growing at such a rate that even in the face of market share loss, other top players are still likely to see outsized growth.


Gucci's Polet Highlights Impact of China and Tech on Retail - Great changes and new opportunities are emerging as the legacy of the three years of economic doldrums. The postrecession future of the fashion industry was discussed by a panel of international executives during a summit organized by Pambianco consultancy here on Monday, titled “Fashion: Nothing Will Ever Be the Same.” Robert Polet, president and chief executive officer of Gucci Group, highlighted the appearance of two major cornerstones: “The development of China and emerging markets, which we’ve never, ever seen in this business, and the technology, internal and external.” The direct contact with customers and the fact that technology allows the company “to engage with millions of customers one-on-one” made “a dream come true,” said Polet. As for the “ultimate luxury experience,” he identified it with the Gucci app, “which costs zero. It’s the same as if you had the bag and it shows you are part of the [Gucci] crowd.” Polet also urged small and medium-size companies to make changes through technology. “This is your biggest opportunity, or you are doomed,” he said. The executive said that, year to date, Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market for the group, gaining 25 percent and accounting for 30 percent of turnover. Sales in Europe rose 15 percent, accounting for 35 percent of revenues. As the Chinese government allowed Chinese to travel in groups around the world, Gucci realized 70 percent of sales in Europe come from Asia and Chinese people traveling. Describing this as a “tremendous influence,” Polet predicted “it will happen soon in the U.S., too.” The executive also noted how 60 percent of customers in China are men. “The next growth will take place when women will be coming out,” he said. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While China continues to be a primary focus for retailers in pursuit of growth, the tourism stats here are the real callout – 70% of Gucci sales in Europe are coming from Asian travelers! While it’s suggested this will happen in the U.S. ‘soon,’ we’d certainly argue increased sales of luxury leather goods and timepieces are already reflecting the benefit from those capitalizing on the currency arb.

Apparel Customer Satisfaction Survey Results - A strong performance by VF Corp.’s brand portfolio lifted the company to the top spot within the apparel sector in an annual study on customer satisfaction, and also put apparel at the top of list of categories in the manufacturing nondurables area. Apparel was the only sector to register a gain in the American Customer Satisfaction Index as athletic footwear was flat and food manufacturing and pet food both registered declines. Apparel’s overall score moved up 1.2 percent to 83 on a scale of 100 from 82 in the third quarter of 2009, principally on VF’s move to 85 from 81 a year ago. VF’s brands include Wrangler, Lee, The North Face, Seven For All Mankind, Nautica, Vans and JanSport. “Other brands” rose to 83 from 82 while Hanesbrands declined to 81 from 82, Jones Group and Levi Strauss both fell to 81 from 83 and Liz Claiborne descended to 79 from 82. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Couple notable moves here with VFC gaining while LIZ took a few steps back relative to last year. Similarly, Adi recorded the greatest increase on the footwear side up 5% to 82 while New Balance and Skechers recorded the most significant drops down -4% to 80.

Wang Closes Bridesmaids Business - Vera Wang, who built her reputation on bridal gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses, is closing her directly owned bridesmaid business. Monday was the last day that her 100-plus doors would take orders for her bridesmaids’ dresses, which retailed from $180 to $330. The stores will honor the orders that have already been placed. Mario Grauso, chief executive officer of Vera Wang, confirmed the exit and said the bridesmaid business would “shift over to David’s Bridal.” Last May, Vera Wang struck a deal with David’s Bridal to design a less-expensive bridal collection called White by Vera Wang, with bridal gowns retailing from $600 to $1,500, with most under $1,200. The arrangement will begin with wedding gowns this February at 150 David’s Bridal stores, and the line will expand to bridesmaids’ dresses and shoes. According to Grauso, the White by Vera Wang bridesmaids’ dresses, which will hit stores in June and July, will retail from $150 to $200. The dresses are expected to be “very similar in feeling” to Wang’s bridesmaids’ dresses, said Grauso, adding “it’s classic Vera.” The line, designed by Wang and the David’s Bridal team, will be offered to over 300 David’s doors and on David’s Bridal’s Web site, beginning in June, he added. Wang’s bridesmaid business was reportedly doing $5 million in wholesale volume at its peak several years ago. However, the business, which was a special order business for bridal salons and specialty stores, became increasingly difficult to maintain and volume deteriorated. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Just looking at the math on this one it implies only 2-3 wedding parties a month (~16 dresses) per store when sales were at peak – not exactly a high volume business. Given that wedding gowns go for a considerable multiple, the right choice appears to have been made here.


New Outerwear Fabric Available to Brands - GE is making its eVent Fabrics collection of waterproof-breathable fabrics available for customers to brand as their own. The change puts the customer’s label on the outside with proven eVent technology on the inside to create an innovative partnership.  For entrepreneurial brands, this offers a new level of design freedom, ushering in a new era of innovation in waterproof-breathable apparel, footwear and gear. “GE is a company driven by innovation. Our flexible, customer-centered approach enables us to help our customers build true innovation while enabling them to build their own brands,” said Glenn Crowther, product line leader for performance fabrics at GE. Mountain Hardwear has chosen to partner with GE for the launch of its proprietary collection of DryQ waterproof-breathable apparel, debuting fall 2011, because of the proven performance of GE’s membrane technology and the flexibility it brings to the internal design process. DryQ apparel offers a never before seen collection combining Mountain Hardwear’s knowledge of textiles, backers, DWR technology, glues and tapes, with GE’s highly-breathable membrane technology. <SportsOneSource>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With numerous new fabrics driving product innovation in sports apparel, marketing will become a key differentiator in winning over consumers headed into the holiday season. Frequency is not nearly as important as the campaign with numerous brands claiming to have this year’s latest innovative product.

Borders Launches New Site - Bookseller Borders Group has unveiled a new version of its e-commerce site, marking the event by offering free shipping on all orders placed today. Borders Direct, the e-commerce arm of Borders Group Inc., relaunched its e-commerce site today with more discounts, free shipping options and other upgrades, in keeping with the company’s growing emphasis on the web. Borders Direct, No. 194 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide is discounting on the site more than 100,000 of its top-selling hardcover and paperback fiction and non-fiction titles. The retail chain unveiled its redesigned web site to coincide with the heart of the holiday shopping season as it seeks to position itself as a key online shopping destination. “Ensuring a world-class online shopping experience is at the core of Borders’ brand transformation strategy,” says CEO Mike Edwards. “We’ve listened to our customers, discounted tens of thousands of our top online titles, and rolled out new product lines and a streamlined, more social online experience.” <internetretailer>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: A case of poor timing with free shipping now the new ante thanks to Wal-Mart.

Chinese Vendors Seek Ways to Offset Pressures - Faced with an appreciating yuan and rising labor costs, Chinese apparel, textile and accessories vendors played up quality and workmanship at this season’s China Sourcing Fair. Buyers and sellers complained about escalating prices, as well as a worldwide cotton shortage that’s further driven up costs. To cope, Chinese apparel and accessories makers have been seeking to move up the food chain, producing higher-quality, more labor-intensive goods. Buyers, on the other hand, reported moving some basic manufacturing to cheaper locales such as Bangladesh and Cambodia. The fair, which ended its four-day run at Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld Expo on Oct. 30, had nearly 1,000 exhibitors, including 600 fashion accessory makers and around 200 booths of apparel and textiles. Vendors reported being squeezed by escalating prices and said order sizes have been smaller. According to a recent survey of 239 exporters by Global Sources, 60 percent of respondents expect some decrease in export orders, while 8 percent believe sales will be hit significantly because of a stronger yuan. To cope with the yuan’s appreciation, 30 percent of exporters surveyed by Global Sources said they intend to increase focus on the domestic market, 15 percent plan to use more imported materials and 10 percent believe focusing on high-end products may bring in higher profits. King Lee of South Korean textile maker King Tex said he’s been seeking out more Asian clientele. European clients once made up 90 percent of his revenue, but since the economic crisis in 2008, that figure has dropped to 30 percent. Hong Kong and Chinese clients now make up 25 percent of revenue, he said. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: This is all well and good, but the bulk of the industry remains mid-tier, not high-end.