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Takeaway: Vicky should stick to fashion-leave performance activewear to the rest. GRPN new bulk concept. JCrew going lower price with Mercantile.


LB - Victoria’s Secret Sports-Bra Push Gets Off to Slow Start


  • "The lingerie chain, part of L Brands Inc., last year rolled out a new line of sports bras, including push-up varieties that let women show off their cleavage at the gym. The move was part of an increasing focus on activewear clothes, such as figure-enhancing workout pants and training shorts."
  • "So far, though, sales haven’t met the company’s initial ambitions. Victoria’s Secret ordered too many sports bras in the summer and fall of 2013 than it could sell, leaving it with excess inventory, Chief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer said this week at an event in New York. Even so, the retailer expects to sell the bras without marking them down, he said."
  • “'We bought enough to hit a home run, but we hit about a double or a triple,' Burgdoerfer said at the Barclays Retail and Consumer Discretionary Conference. 'We have grown that business very nicely, but we bought a lot of sports bras.'”

Retail Callouts (5/2): LB, JCrew, GRPN, WMT, COST, AMZN - chart1 5 2

Takeaway: No surprise that Vicky has a tough time executing on activewear that is actually intended for activity. We were surprised by the brand's scores in our two consumer surveys looking at LULU specifically and the female activewear market more generally - the one caveat is that VS/Pink shoppers predominately wear the brand's activewear offerings for everyday wear. Higher than Gap, Old Navy, CK, and H&M. Victoria Secret should focus on the fashion aspect of this trend and leave the performance aspect to those who do it best.

JCrew - J. Crew to Open Chain for Budget-Conscious Shoppers -- Update


  • "J. Crew is developing a new format aimed at budget-conscious shoppers...The new format is called J. Crew Mercantile, the people said. It will feature merchandise and prices closer to what shoppers would find at J. Crew Factory, the retailer's outlet stores, than what is available in its full-line stores, one of the people said. A spokeswoman confirmed that the retailer owned the J. Crew Mercantile name."
  • "The retailer has been scouting locations for the new chain, two of the people said. A few leases have been signed, but no stores have been opened, one of those people said."

Takeaway: Drexler's dusting off the old GPS playbook, and sticking to the nautical theme for his newest off-price concept. J. Crew now has 3 concepts including Madewell. It's an interesting time for mall retailers with ANF and ARO pulling the plug on brand extensions, but if anybody can execute a new banner rollout in this environment its Drexler.

GRPN, COST, WMT, AMZN - Groupon launches a bulk-shopping service


  • "The retailer best known for selling discount vouchers launched today a Costco Wholesale Corp.-like bulk-shopping service called Groupon Basics. The service will compete with Costco, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Sam Club, as well as Amazon.com Inc., which sells a wide array of products in warehouse-size packages."
  • "Groupon says Basics distinguishes itself from Costco and Sam’s Club because it does not require a paid membership. And it has a lower free shipping threshold—items ship free when shoppers spend at least $25—than Amazon, which offers free shipping when shoppers spend at least $35."
  • "Groupon Basics sells far fewer products; at launch Groupon Basics has about 100 household, personal care and health and wellness items for sale. For example, it sells a 12-pack of Axe deodorant for $46.49; Unilever sells the same item on Amazon’s marketplace for $55.80 plus $3.90 for shipping. A Groupon spokesman says the retailer plans to build out its inventory, as well as add new categories such as canned and packaged groceries."

Takeaway: Not sure how GRPN is beating AMZN, COST and WMT on price without charging a subscription fee, but we don't imagine that will last long.


LUX - Oakley Design on Display in Manhattan


  • "Erik Searles, vice president of retail for Oakley...Searles commenced a preview of the company’s Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan, which opened Thursday…"
  • "With 2,100 square feet for selling, the space has separate areas for the eyewear — custom, performance, prescription and lifestyle — representing the core of the offering."

Retail Callouts (5/2): LB, JCrew, GRPN, WMT, COST, AMZN - chart2 5 2

FINL - Running Specialty Group Adds Another Chain


  • "The Denver-based organization — a joint venture between Finish Line Inc. and Gart Capital Partners — has acquired the eight-store Running Fit chain, which has locations in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Traverse City, Mich. This brings RSG’s total number of stores to 57."
  • "According to a statement, Running Fit founders Randy Step and Steve Angerman will remain with the business, as will Trevor Step, Randy Step’s son and GM of the retail team."



  • "Lands' End today announced it has named Steven Rado as Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer. Rado will lead all aspects of marketing for the brand, including the oversight of strategic development, direction, and implementation of all marketing activities. His leadership will guide a team of 50 professionals across marketing operations including consumer insights, forecasting and analytics, catalog, digital marketing, customer acquisition, e-commerce, public relations and advertising."
  • "Rado comes to Lands' End as an experienced marketer with a strong background in retail and banking. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Strategy for Office Depot, and prior to that he was Vice President of Marketing for Victoria's Secret Direct."

Alec Richards