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January 12, 2010





  • In the latest customer service survey out of BIGresearch, Zappos.com and Amazon.com took the top spots overtaking both LL Bean and Overstock.com coming in at #3 and #4 respectively this year. It appears that Tony Hsieh’s customer focused culture is taking hold at the online giant even sooner than some expected.
  • Customers may actually know best.  According to a Motorola study, 55% of consumers believe that “the shopper today is better connected to consumer information than store associates”.  Might be time for retailers to step up their training or at least mandate that their employees spend more time online researching the products they sell.
  • Following in Best Buy’s footsteps, Apple has announced that it will discontinue charging for restocking fees on returned product. Given the timing with company’s new Verizon iPhone launch, waiving the 10% penalty is not only likely to help conversions, but will also be viewed favorably for the loyal Apple consumer who might still be unaware of such fees.


Sears Brings on the “Kardashian Kollection”  - The seemingly ubiquitous reality television sisters, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe, are set to unveil merchandise on a bigger retail stage when the Kardashian Kollection launches exclusively at 400 Sears doors in August with in-store shops. The brand, which is produced under license by Australian designer Bruno Schiavi’s Jupi Corp., is a critical component of Sears Holdings Corp.’s strategy to energize its contemporary clothing and accessories segment. The market will get an initial jolt at the store with the introduction of the French Connection-Sears hook-up UK Style by French Connection in March. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Just when you thought 2010 was the year of the Kardashians, 2011 starts off with yet another collaboration.  If only there was a way to merchandise every Kardashian product under one roof.


Versace to Re-Enter Japan - Versace is reentering the Japanese market and, to spearhead its development in the region, has tapped Hiroshi Saito as chief executive officer of Versace Japan. Gian Giacomo Ferraris, ceo of Milan-based Versace SpA, said he was excited about the appointment, adding he had worked with Saito in the past. Between 2007 and 2010, Saito was president of Jil Sander Japan. Ferraris joined Jil Sander from Gucci in 2004, when the German fashion house was still owned by the Prada Group, and left in 2009. “He is one of the best managers in the Japanese luxury business, and he understands Italian fashion brands better than anyone else,” said Ferraris. Saito, 60, has worked for more than 30 years in the Japanese luxury fashion market, for companies such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Prada and Donna Karan. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Versace’s absence in Japan was short-lived, having shuttered its 4 stores only two years ago.  Expect the re-launch to include denim, and The collection in select department stores by Fall ’11.

Collective Licensing International Signs Airwalk - Collective Licensing International is boosting its Airwalk brand.The Engelwood, Colo.-based company announced a licensing deal with Wiesner Products Inc. to license select apparel and accessories for Collective’s skate brand. Under the three-year agreement, Wiesner will hold Airwalk’s license for infant and newborn apparel, women’s, juniors and kid’s swimwear and sleepwear in the United States. Accessories including bags, headbands, underwear and socks are also included in the design and manufacturing deal.<WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While not a needle mover, Collective’s licensing biz clearly has an eye towards growth and growing the portfolio beyond its core product categories. 


Cabela's Launches Mobile Website - Cabela’s launched an optimized mobile website that will allow customers to easily search and purchase items when they visit cabelas.com on popular mobile devices including the iPhone/iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android. Key features of the new mobile website include: rich product photographs, complete product descriptions, customer-submitted product reviews, shop by category, shop by brand, store locator, e-mail and a complete site search. The website was developed by Digby on its Digby Mobile Commerce Software platform. Digby has used the same platform to develop mobile commerce sites for Toys “R” Us, Costco, The Home Depot, Lilly Pulitzer, Wet Seal, Godiva, 1800-Flowers, Golfsmith, Orvis and many other retailers.<SportsOneSource>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Soon the development of a mobile e-commerce platform for any retailer will no longer be news, but rather a prerequisite for remaining competitive.


Katie Holmes is the New Face of Ann Taylor - Katie Holmes has been tapped as the new face of Ann Taylor, succeeding Heidi Klum, in the 280-store chain’s spring advertising campaign. Developed in-house by the Ann Taylor creative team and photographed by Tom Munro, the campaign breaks in March magazines. “I applaud women who are doing their best to be the best versions of themselves and who are working really hard. And I’m glad that there is a store like Ann Taylor that can offer amazing styles for the many different roles that women play,” Holmes, 32, told WWD exclusively. The media buy includes fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire and InStyle. Outdoor ads will go up in major metropolitan areas. Holmes is contracted to Ann Taylor for one season. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: It’s tough to position this move an upgrade for the company – while Holmes may be younger, I’d argue she’s not as relevant as Klum, especially of late. Perhaps the company has arranged for Tom to be a part of future campaigns, which is more likely to catch both headlines and the company’s ‘core’ demographic attention.

Financo Panel Touts the Store - Online sales are booming and dominating the retail dialogue. But even as social networking, smartphones and mobile marketing build momentum, some executives believe brick and mortar will always be king. And what better place to stick up for the old format than the annual Financo Forum, which, on Monday night, drew a balance of veteran retailers, Web geeks, social networkers and executives from private equity, real estate, headhunting and fashion firms. “Even if we do triple the business online in the next five years, 59th Street will still be a bigger business,” said Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer Michael Gould, in a reference to Bloomingdale’s Manhattan flagship.<WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: The company can downplay the impact of its e-commerce business all it wants, but the reality is that they are investing heavily here and it’s one of the few if only growth engine they have.